UPDATE: Gina reports that they stuck to their guns and named their daughter Daisy … and none of the grandparents have said anything about her name since. Don’t you just love a #namehelp happy ending?
My husband and I are “those” people – we got married right after we met, and yes, we’re already pregnant. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it means I don’t really know his family. (We live in the same town as my parents and older brother, but his parents/grandparents live on the other side of the country.)
Our daughter is due in June, a few days before our first anniversary. We have a great name picked out: Daisy Eleanor. (Or maybe Elinor? I’m a big Jane Austen fan.)
We weren’t going to tell anyone before she was born, but because of so much going on, we wanted to tell his grandparents. We were supposed to see them in March, but canceled because of corona virus, and so we decided we wanted to tell them over the phone.
A few days after the call, my husband’s mom asked if we were really set on the name. She grew up on a farm, and they named lots of animals Daisy, including a cow. (Maybe more than one cow? I’m not sure I have the story straight.) But it was pretty clear that she was trying to ask nicely if we knew that her first grandchild was going to have a cow name.
I tried to laugh it off, but now I’m wondering: is this a problem?
Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Gina –
Congratulations on your new daughter.
And I’m sorry your attempt to spread joy has led to worry!
Daisy Eleanor/Elinor is a great name. I don’t think you should change it – at all.
Imagine your decision after twenty years of marriage.
Most couples name their children early in their relationships. It’s just the nature of life, right? And you’re about as new to this as it gets!
One of the trickiest parts of a new marriage is navigating our relationships with our families of origin. Yup, even when they’re terrific people who only want the best for us. And even when we’re doing our best to be kind and thoughtful – which surely describes your reasons for sharing your daughter’s name early.
As time goes by, it’s much easier to shrug off differences in our preferences and styles. You and your husband will find your groove, and will eventually feel like your own family, with traditions and practices that mix both of your backgrounds and build on your shared experiences to come.
Since you’re in it for the long haul – all of you! – that means that a dispute today is almost certainly forgotten well before Daisy graduates from high school.
Recognize that negative reactions from our families can be a good sign.
I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should behave like rebellious teenagers.
Names are subject to considerations of style. And style changes across generations – in clothing, in household furniture, in music.
But somehow we believe that there are “normal” names and “weird” names, overlooking the obvious: Gladys and Eugene, Tammy and Keith, Dustin and Heather were all chart-toppers not that long ago. And now they’re … well, not.
So if your favorite names leave the grandparents-to-be a little surprised? That might just mean that you’ve chosen names appropriate for your children, and the current generation. A grandparent’s raised eyebrow can signal that you’ve chosen a very appropriate name for a child born today.
Pop culture references fade.
Every now and then, a grandparent-to-be will dismiss a name because of a fictional character on a short-lived television series. Or an athlete that hasn’t played the sport in three decades.
Google tells me that your husband’s family is correct. Lots of cows were named Daisy over the years, including a few that probably qualify as bovine famous. But it’s been in the US Top 200 for girls since the 1990s. (I’ve called it a Sweet Spot name – not too popular, not too out-there.)
That means that we’ve all met girls named Daisy – or wouldn’t be surprised to meet a girl called Daisy. It falls solidly in the “human name” category these days.
The dividing line has blurred.
Even though I consider Daisy a perfectly reasonable name for a child, it’s worth noting that lots of human names are big for pets. In fact, pet names are people names – and vice versa – in a way that feels very different than a few decades back.
We’ve known cats and dogs called Jake, Sadie, Max, Gwen, Elle, Rosie, and yes, even Daisy. My daughter shares her name with SO many cats called Cleo/Clio. I’ve shared my name with a horse.
And so the correction reaction to such a coincidence in 2020? That’s a great name! Whether the bearer in question goes by four legs or two.
DAISY IT IS!
I think you know your daughter’s name. Daisy feels summery and light, but Eleanor is a rock solid, traditional middle name to anchor it.
And for what it’s worth, I think you should spell it Elinor. While unusual spellings can be a headache, it’s far less of an issue with middle names. And Elinor Dashwood is a great character to inspire your daughter.
Okay readers – over to you! What advice would you give to Gina and her husband?
Agree with Abby 110%
Oh, I just adore the sound of Daisy Elinor. What a perfectly darling name!
If you want to be perceived as conciliatory but not a pushover…Name her Margaret Elinor but call her Daisy (a proper nickname for Margaret, as that is the name’s meaning). I’m one of those old fogeys who prefer stolid traditional names anyway (John called Jack, Elinor called Ellie, Louisa called Lulu, etc.) so there’s a good argument for Margaret right there, cow or no cow. She may be Daisy all of her life, but may eventually choose any of Margaret’s many nicks as suits her taste and station at any particular time.
I agree with Abby 100% but this is also great advice.
I agree with Abby too. Or perhaps name her Marguerite nn Daisy. I love the Elinor spelling.
I am so so glad you went with the name you wanted. This is YOUR BABY. It’s not you who needs to be conciliatory or understanding. Again, this is YOUR BABY. Your intuition and decisions are crucial and your entire family should support you.
Congratulations, and enjoy.
Daisy Elinor is a lovely name and I think previous commentors have given you lots of good reasons to politely stand firm with your choice.
I did raise my eyebrows a bit when a friend of a friend named her child Daisy Mae. To me the name screamed Li’l Abner, but I’m old and the child’s mother likely had no knowledge of the comic strip connection.
Also, I’m just enough of a rebel that I would look for an adorable, black and white cow print onesie, sleeper, or other outfit for sweet Daisy Elinor.
Allison Berkson says
I would not worry about the questioning of your baby’s name. Since she’s not here yet, there is somewhat of an unattached feeling that everyone else has that gives them permission to be a tad rude. I had family do this to us and all I could think was, “If you were holding my baby for the first time and I told you this name, would you still tell me we shouldn’t have picked it?” I agree the association of the name will soon become her own. Go with what you love!
Yes! Hilarious. The Britax Boulevard car seat also comes in cow print
I have no hesitation to use names that have been given to cows or other animals–we’re naming them like humans these days, not vice versa, in my opinion). I also love Daisy and have personally struggled with “too much of a nickname/will it wear well on an adult” idea for this name, so considered using Margaret instead, but it’s just not my fav. I actually think Marguerite Elinor sounds lovely, but so is Daisy Elinor, and you should do what makes you and your husband happy, not worry about anyone else’s opinion (unless their opinion is something closer to “Adolf Hitler isn’t really a great name for a girl” than “I knew a cow, once.”
Frances Rae says
My son’s favorite dog growing up was named Sam. Fast forward decades, and what did he name his youngest son? Sam. When I mentioned the dog being also named Sam, my son said: But mom, the dog was named Sam, but my son is named Samuel, called Sam for short. I had to laugh at that and both othe dog Sam and the child Sam are very much loved. All is well, and a good story to boot.
I love Daisy Elinor. It seems like the perfect name for your new daughter. Once she arrives, I think the cow memories will fade pretty quickly.
Okay, so Mother-in-law isn’t wrong. As Abby points out, it is a common cow name and clearly her personal associations are closely tied to cows which will reinforce the strength of that association for her. Hence her concern. I note this one for one reason — with a new Mother-in-law and pregnancy hormones, it is important to distinguish intent. I think she raised this not to continue to control/manipulate her son/you, but out of possible real concern about connotations of the name. My advice for a peaceful life is to always assume positive intent.
However changing the name is like refusing to call your kid Minnie because of Minnie Mouse. Yes, people may make the jump, but it is also a known name and known nickname for a whole bunch of other names. Plus, even if the association to Minnie Mouse (or cows) is made, it isnt exactly negative either. We are not talking Adolph to Hitler here. Cows are peaceful and productive and recall green fields, blue skies and fresh air. None of those are negative things even if the cow association is made. Heck “fresh as a daisy”, right?
If you have found the name you love, use it. And, have hubby take a moment to explain to Mom all the positive associations you two make with the name and why you picked it. This may help her see the name differently too. But, regardless, when the baby arrives the name will become hers, and childhood cows will fade to their rightful place … in the past.
Love Daisy Elinor!!
Love Daisy Elinor! Such a sweet name and knowing that animals sometimes share it isn’t a deterrent in my mind, unless it’s one of my pets or a family childhood pet. We tend to choose people names for pets, so we’d consider them “taken” if/when we need to name another family member =)
If there’s any glimmer of doubt, you could lean into one of the formal names that lend themselves to Daisy as a nickname – Marguerite, Margaret, Margot, but I don’t think you need to!
Totally agree with Abby! I’m Jewish and so many popular names at our Temple are “pet” names. I know people and dogs named Sadie, Jake, and Max. Our neighbor’s dog growing up was Max and it’s still one of my favorite names for a future boy! Go with what you love!
Erin Beth says
Another vote for Daisy Elinor! It’s a gorgeous combination.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Absolutely agree with everything Abby said, right down to the Elinor spelling! I was talked into my daughter’s name by my entire family, and fortunately, she adores her name so I do now, too. But I think being talked out of a name you both love and are so excited about would be truly regrettable. Daisy Elinor is a lovely name. Congratulations and best wishes!
Daisy Elinor feels like a bright, happy, beautiful girl! I picture her walking around in a sundress beneath a cloudless blue sky. Unless you or a close family member actually currently own a pet named Daisy, I wouldn’t worry about the cow association. I’ve had to cross Tobias off of my personal list because my sister has a dog named Toby, but I still like the name and wouldn’t raise my eyebrows if I met a human Tobias or Toby. Growing up, we had a poodle named Tiffany, which was also the name of several of my classmates. We also had a German Shepherd named Agape. When I met my husband, I found out that some friends of his had given that name to one of their children. Like Abigail said, it happens all the time and it’s no biggie.