This is the very first post in a series called Mom Before Mom, hosted by a fellow blogging friend, Carla, at All of Me…Now. Carla had the wonderful idea to start a blogging link-up of posts wherein we moms talk about our lives before we were moms. Our husbands remember that time. Our parents remember even more of it. But our children will never know who we were before we were “mom.” So the goal of this series is to write about ourselves once a week, about who we are, who we were, where we came from, etc. My personal goal with this series is to write each week then compile the posts into a book to give my children to have – a little something to know about me and what made me the mom they have now.
Week 1 Prompt: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?
My name: Michele Christine
Sometimes, a name is picked for a baby long before he or she is even conceived, long before their parents may have even met. Other times, a name just comes to a parent, and it just sounds right. Still, other times, parents need to meet their little one before knowing what name will really suit him or her. And there are yet other times where you pick out a name, and then it turns out it might not quite work for the wee one you hold in your arms.
Mine is a story from the last category.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my father were absolutely sure they were having a boy. I would be named Michael Christopher, and that was all they needed. Given that you were not able to find out the gender of a baby before birth (in most cases) at the time, they lived in their confidence for 9 months and were excited to finally meet me after a very, very long labor and delivery.
Imagine their surprise.
And so, in light of the fact that my parents had not really thought of a girl’s name during their pregnancy, I became Michele Christine – Michele being the Italian spelling of Michael, and Christine being, well, the feminine version of Christopher.
I have generally always loved my name. Exceptions to that would be when there were what felt like a thousand of us in my high school with the same name. And when I wanted to find anything that was personalized, since my ‘unique’ spelling presented a challenge there. Most of my friends had barrettes, purses, hair brushes, you name it with their name on it. Me? Not so much. In the present age of Etsy this would have not been an issue, as my parents could have just custom ordered me such things, but things were a bit less global back in those pre-interwebz days.
My nicknames have run the gamut from the typical Mich (pronounced “mish”), to Shell, to some creative ones, such as Mitchell, Mooshka (that one was my dad, and to this day kinda remains my favorite nickname, even when my cousin misunderstood it and decided to call me Moose), to Gert (my mom did that one, and I still sign my emails to her ‘love, gert’). I can say that the only nickname I truly never liked was being called “Shelly,” and not because I don’t like the name, but because to me, that is a totally separate name, not a nickname for Michele.
In my middle school and early high school years I definitely wanted to change my name. I wanted to be a Stacy or something that sounded more “exotic” like Alexandra or Anastasia. But as I grew older, finishing high school and entering college, I grew into my name and truly can’t imagine being anyone but Michele Christine at this point.
When I got married, I thought for sure I would end up keeping my maiden name. I was already a practicing attorney, so why change it, right? But I realized that I was barely out of school, no one had a clue who I was, so it would work out. I am not a fan of hyphenating names, and I wanted us all to have the same family name. Plus, who can argue with a simple last name like Cook, which gets butchered far, far less than my maiden name, which was only 5 letters, but for some reason was destroyed both on the telephone and in print on a daily basis. And so, I became Michele Christine Cook, and my MCC initials have become so natural I can’t remember writing otherwise.
I do not have an exotic, or truly unusual name, and for that I am grateful. As I enter the latter half of my 30s, and have had the fortunate experience to name two of my own children, I realize that my name is perfect. It fits me like that perfect, favorite pair of jeans. You know, the one that fits you even when you gain or lose 10 pounds, the one that just always seems right no matter what. I am me – and growing ever more comfortable in my own skin as the years go by.