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Do you ever wish you could change your kid’s name?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Nick and I decided on both of our kids’ names after they were born. Hours after. We had obviously considered Alex and Nora but were definitely not sold until we spent a little time with them and could agree on what kind of name suited their look. Though we were both in such a state of extreme happiness and wonderment after giving birth to healthy babies, we probably would have agreed on Hey You. And, to be honest, even after meeting them, it’s still a crap shoot. Babies all kind of look like little aliens, not Charlottes or Emilys or Annies (all on the list for Nora).


When Alex was two I really started to wish I’d named him Timothy, which was a top contender for a while. And three days after Nora was born I had a hormonal sobfest in which I regretted her name to the point of needing to be talked into it over and over again. But now, over a year later, I love that she is Nora. She is such a Nora. It’s her middle name—Jane—that I have an issue with. I actually love Jane, but it has no meaning. And I’m a pretty sentimental person who likes to have as much meaning as possible to the things I do. If I could go back I would have named her Nora Adele, after my mom's mom. It doesn’t have quite the ring of Nora Jane, but it has meaning.


My birthday just passed and it always makes me think about my grandma Del. We shared a birthday (January 30th) and were very close. She was a Radio City Rockette in the 40s, back when they lived in the dance hall (I wrote about her when I was thinking on names). I always thought if I had a daughter I’d give her the middle name Adele. We even considered Harper, my grandmother’s maiden name, as a first name. It was on top for a long time but then I couldn’t go through with it. Nick and I are just traditional kid-name people (if we weren't, Alex would have been Griffin). But I do wish Nora’s middle name were Adele. I think we didn’t do it because then she’d have two old-fashioned names? Or because Nick put the kibosh on it. But now my sister, Melissa, is having a girl and definitely giving her the middle name Adele and, well, it makes me feel a little jealous. Especially since Nora was also born in January like my grandma and me. I sing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” to her every single night, which my grandma used to sing to me. And every day I wear the gold pendant necklace that my grandma’s best friend gave her.  Nora plays with it while I sing to her.


I got a letter last week from my grandmother’s best friend and fellow former rockette, Jeannette (the gold pendant was from her. It’s dated 12/21/71 and says, “much love, jeannette”). She sends me letters once or twice a year and they’re beautiful and sweet and always make me miss my grandma. Here are some snippets:


I hope you have a great day and of course I think of my dear Adele—I think of her often and miss her so much and as you share her birthday I will always think of you! And thanks again for the sending the Christmas picture of Alex and Nora—they are precious!


[my mother and aunts go visit her in Virginia every summer—they used to take my grandparents down—and this year Jeannette is coming up to my parents’ house with her son, which she wrote me about]:


So that’s the plan and I hope we can see you and Nick and your children at that time. I’d better go this year—I’m an OLD woman. My number could be called at the big Music Hall in the sky any time!...


So stay well and beautiful. If you have time, I’d love to hear from you.


Love to all,





Cool, right? I am sending her a letter with photos today. Since I was already thinking about my grandma around our birthdays, this letter really stirred things up. So, I guess the point of this rambling post is A: I miss my grandma (both of them, for that matter—I was equally close with my dad’s mom). B. I hope my friendships last this long—my grandmother never revealed her age, but she was 85 when she died three years ago so you do the math. And C: I wish I had honored my grandmother in some way in Nora’s name. Just because of our January birthdays, it would have been perfect. Toward the end of my grandmother’s life, she referred to me as “my namesake.” She even called me “Erin Adele” once. Only my middle name is Elizabeth. (Good one, mom!) I guess I just wish Nora’s name had more meaning. She also would have been a great Mary after Nick’s grandmother who was an extraordinary lady. Oh well. It’s too late now! And I do love the name Nora. Maybe we’ll have to have another daughter and name her Mary Helen Adele Ruth after all of our grandmothers. Oy!


Do you ever have second thoughts about your kids’ names or am I just a hopeless second guesser?  And do your kids’ names have meaning or are they just names you like? Does it matter? Am I crazy?


Oh, and a very cool PS: One of my best friend’s mothers happens to be one my mom’s best friends (got that?). Her mom (my friend’s grandma) was a sweet English lady named Norah and for my Nora’s first birthday my mom’s friend gave us her mom's beautiful silver broche that has an N on it. It’s over 100 years old and delicate and beautiful and it was such a special gift. It makes me feel that Nora has a connection to the past in a way I’ve been craving.