Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Ah, the Weight of a Name

About Finding Ninee
A name isn’t ever just a name. There’s weight to what we’re called. Sometimes, the weight of a name is measured by generations, or an ancestor that holds special meaning to the ones who named us.

We name our children with purpose.

The blood we pass on gifts them with the strength of Vikings and nomads and far-away tribes. We gift them with memory and love when we say “your middle name is that of my father.”

I remember when my husband and I were ready to choose a name for our son.

New mommy with baby

Some names never stood a chance given unfortunate characteristics of long-ago classmates. Others because they reminded us of something that felt like less than he might become.

I like my son’s name. It’s strong, and his middle name is that of my father. His last name is his own father’s.

But even before there was a word we chose to call him, he was himself. He was who he’ll become

I suppose the same holds true for him. I was a feeling; his safety, his warm place, long before he had words.

Would he still be him had I named him differently? Would I be different had I not been named Kristi?

Ah, the weight of a name.

My name is Kristi.

My name is Kristi and I have eye bags and wrinkles and am sometimes surprised by how old I am in photos. Was I always this old, this year?

My name is Kristi, although I answer to others. Pet names. Sis, or Kris from my dad and brothers. Sometimes, I answer to “excuse me?” but try to avoid “M’am” when possible.

My name is Mommy. This week, my son’s been trying on Mom and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Mom feels like letting go of baby and toddlerhood, which I’m not ready for. It also feels like sleeping for an extra two minutes because a boy who calls me Mom rather than Mommy is certainly one who can put on his own underpants. Wipe his own butt.

Years ago, I was Sweetly, and that felt like everything. Now it feels like a name I relaxed in, grew out of, and finally rinsed off. Swam through, maybe. It should have always been forbidden. It was forbidden, but I was seen. I was Sweetly. Now, I am not. 

I’ve been called Bitch, although not recently as far as I know, and it’s not a name I’ve ever specifically identified with.

Ah, the weight of a name.

My name is Kristi.

It’s what I’ve worn for the longest time. I’ve been called Kristi almost since my beginning. I’ve loved the mes I’ve been.

Before being Kristi, my name was Esther. In her womb, but never in her arms. She later told me she touched my cheek as she said goodbye.

I don’t know what they called me for eight days between being Esther and Kristi.

I wonder what happened during those days though. How much of being held or being ignored made me me? Probably, what happened during those eight days made me me, more than being Esther or Kristi does or did. Was I nameless or was I baby X? Maybe, there was a common name. Jane, for a girl. John, for a boy. 

How much of who we are are the stories that come with what we are named? Or of not having one, for eight days or for longer, for some?

The stories behind our names are something, too. We can live up to them, or beyond them, when they require us to do so. My husband is one of three Roberts. They were Old Bob, Bob, and Little Bob. He decided on Robert when he was in middle school, I think.

Ah, the weight of a name. Or of being nameless.

My name is Kristi, although that’s not what it says on my birth certificate. On it, I am Kristine. Kristine Jane. Jane for my mother and for hers.

I’ve had three last names in my life, not counting when I was Esther. So, maybe four. I don’t know what last name was on that first birth certificate although I suspect it was one of my ancestors given to me by the one who named me, touched my cheek, and said goodbye.

Ah, the weight of a name.

kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “They call me…”

Feel free to write about what people call on you to do, why they ring your phone when they could text, a name that you’re called (your first name, Mommy, honey, beotch, whatever) or anything that speaks to you when you read “They call me…”

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  • JT Walters - They call me jealous because I look at your pictures and see this beautiful woman inside and out, my dear friend and am baffled at how you can think you look old.

    While I was not adopted by another family, I grew up in a Hebrew community and attended Temple, JCC and learned to speak a modest amount of Hebrew which earned me the nickname “Beth”. It is not on any legal document and yet somehow I have Jewish “Beth” invisibly stamped across my forehead so everyone thinks I am complaint. Not so Siste! You know I go by the Science. It is interesting because when growing up I had a Hebrew nickname Beth “the house” and and Arabic last name. I was the walking talking two state solution.

    I do love the Middle Eastern culture when it is warm and inviting. The food is awesome and the people are wonderful. So having that extra name is a blessing.

    As for my son I read him male names out of the baby book and I said, “Kick really hard for your name”. He kicked me to death every time I read the name Alexander. I think it suits him. You have meet him don’t you?May 4, 2017 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - That’s cool about your Jewish first name and Arabic last name! And yes, I think Alexander fits Alex just perfectly. He knew what he wanted even back then! 😀May 5, 2017 – 5:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Oh Krisit–I missed you! When I was traveling to Australia/New Zealand and the South Pacific, I didn’t have as much access to internet as I would’ve liked. I just know I missed some really good pieces that would’ve touched my heart. Like this one. The weight of a name. I’ve never had a nickname or been known by any other first name—and have had moments in my life when I was jealous that others did have them. Although I’ve had three last names, I’ve been Atwell longer than any of the other names I’ve held.

    As I read your piece, I loved this particular part:
    Mom feels like letting go of baby and toddlerhood, which I’m not ready for. It also feels like sleeping for an extra two minutes because a boy who calls me Mom rather than Mommy is certainly one who can put on his own underpants. Wipe his own butt.

    And I think you are right. Mom does feel like letting go of baby and toddlerhood. Sometimes Lindsey still calls me mommy and I have to say, it is sweet, it is endearing.

    Anyway, I’m glad to be back in town and reading your beautiful words and connecting with your stories. Hugs.May 5, 2017 – 1:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I missed you too, Linda! I love seeing your travel photos on Facebook though, so much. One of these days, you’re going to have to fly through DC to get somewhere and maybe there’ll be a layover and we can meet in person! I love that Lindsey still calls you mommy – it IS sweet. When Tucker isn’t thinking about it, Mommy slips out. I think he’s heard friends call their moms mom and so he tries it on to not be a baby (weep). I’ll get used to it… and Hugs back at you, my friend!May 5, 2017 – 5:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I was going to do this prompt this week, but then I thought, “why break my streak of NOT blogging for so long?” Ha or Ugh. Anyway, I was going to write about my college nickname that seems to have stuck with some of my friends. It was “Flemily” or “Flem” for short (but could also be spelled, “phlegm”). Who would have thought that a nickname meaning “mucus” would have stuck? Hmm, I think that’s a pun too…anyway, I suppose names can and do have weight, and I think it’s fun to think of what we could have been named too. My husband was almost named “Dino” instead of “Jonathan.” I told him there’s no way I would have dated him if his name was Dino, so there ya go — a name can have weight! 🙂May 5, 2017 – 8:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - No pressure or anything but the linkup is open through Sunday night if the urge strikes. How did you end up with “Flemily??!!?” You have to write about that! OMG to your husband almost being named Dino. I’m glad they called him Jonathan so you could marry him and have your three awesome boys. Isn’t life weird that way?May 5, 2017 – 5:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Names are so important. We actually didn’t have a name picked for Zilla because we were “so sure” she was a boy. We were scheduled for an induction and before we left figured we should choose a girl’s name just in case. We did and it was the perfect name and a good thing because, well, she’s her! 😀
    I’ll be back with mine for real later.May 5, 2017 – 9:34 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - That’s awesome that you chose her name last minute. My husband and I agreed on Tucker pretty early on… I liked Carter but he’s from Carter County TN and thought it’d be weird. That people thought he was named for there, or something. I’m glad though because Tucker is SO MUCH A TUCKER! 😀May 5, 2017 – 5:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - Momma, this was a bit heavy:). I had no idea that you were called Ester (in the womb). You are so a Kristi! (even more so than Kristine). Bubbly, sunny, pretty Kristi. You name fits you. And four last names…that’s another blog post. ha, ha!May 5, 2017 – 1:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, my bio mom (I later found this out, after I met her), had a sister named Esther who died when she was a kid, so she named me after her. My parents didn’t know of that name when they got me, and I didn’t learn it until years later when I got my papers, and then I didn’t learn the story of her sister until I actually met her a few years back. And aw shucks – thanks for the sweetness. I think Allie fits you perfectly. LOL to the whole other blog post about four last names!May 5, 2017 – 5:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - I did not know this about your first name. Wow. What was it that shaped you and the name you would soon have in those eight or so days? Interesting to think. You will get used to mom because he will grow into a wonderful young man and you won’t always find it so endearing if he is calling you mommy at a certain age. Life is about not holding on too tightly because we know we’re going to have to let go at some point. It’s astounding to me just how tied to our names we become. I think of mine a lot and others.May 5, 2017 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think a lot about the eight days… I guess mostly wondering whether they just let me cry or held me a lot or what. It seems that either scenario would affect me for life, although that’s probably over-dramatic. It’s also why I never let my baby “cry it out” — I never wanted him to feel like nobody cared. Anyway. And yeah, I know about not holding on too tightly but wowza sometimes that’s so hard. I think about names a lot too. It usually seems like they fit the people that have them, but if they had a different name, would that fit too?May 5, 2017 – 5:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Just J - Although I really wanted to participate this week, when I saw the prompt I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, a couple ideas came to mind, but nothing worth writing about. Then I came here and read your powerful post, and you’ve inspired me! Names are very important I think, you chose well for your son, and you have lived well with yours. Your comments on your name/life in your first eight days touched my heart. Knowing that it was your first name gives you the strength it bears, as well as the name you are known by now. I have gone by assorted names, and I still have issues with my given name, as is clear by my ID for this blog… Just J, perhaps a resignation of sorts, or maybe just keeping it simple. I’ll be back before the weekend is over with a post of my own. This was an awesome read!May 6, 2017 – 3:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yay for inspiration – I’m so glad. I saw that you’d linked up and am going to see what you shared about your name (many names) right now.May 7, 2017 – 7:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - I didn’t know you were Kristine, or Esther.Esther is the heroine of the Purim story – she was a queen.

    The weight of a name can be a heavy thing – looking back I’m not sure how I committed to any name for my own kids. But I guess “Hey you” would not have worked.May 7, 2017 – 6:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL to Hey you although once, my dad tried to name our dog Damnit (instead, the name Junior stuck for the dog). Which Purim story?? I like the queen part… I always pictured Esther as a farm girl. Queen is much more glamorous.May 7, 2017 – 7:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Moonmoon - This is such a wonderful post , Kristi on the significance of the name and how even before the knowledge or comprehension of the name ,we are a feeling of warmth and safety to our newborn and how our name is inextricably connected to memories and a particular tone of address and how our name is just not a name but also what we are to the other in question(e.g.. mom, sis, daughter etc). Thanks for the rich perspectives .
    Best wishes,
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.comMay 8, 2017 – 2:41 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much, Moonmoon!! Isn’t it mind-boggling to think of who we were before we were named and how that shaped us? The identities afterwards, mom, etc. It’s a lifetime of stories, maybe.May 9, 2017 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Awww man I had an oldie that I could have linked up about my name. As for CHrisotpher I don’t feel like we named him with purpose. I’ll have to ask my husband why he kept coming back around to the name Christopher. I finally said, “FINE” when I was in labor. But I can’t imagine Christopher with any other name. I know that I got on my husband’s nerves about why not “I had a classmate named that” or “If my friend has a boy then that’s the name she wants”. LOL! With Christopher I said so & so’s dog is named CJ and I wouldn’t want anyone to call Christopher CJ.

    As for Tucker & Kristi, I love your names and couldn’t picture you as anything else. Esther? Definitely not. Glad you’re Kristi.May 8, 2017 – 2:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m sorry your oldie didn’t get linked. I’d be happy to link it now if you’d like? Maybe I need another similar one… this week’s was continued a little from last week’s of “what I’m not…” and seems to be something that works for people’s stories, I don’t know.
      LOL to “FINE” in labor. I said that a lot during my labor too although not about the name. And thanks for agreeing that Esther is a definitely not, although who knows…if I’d have always been her, maybe I’d still be me? That’s a weird thing to think about. And I LOVE Christopher and Kenya as your names too… so much. Kenya is an awesome name for a billion reasons, and Christopher was one I didn’t have any “but so and so had a son…” stories except that my ex had a son named Christopher. It’s perfect for YOUR Christopher. Also funny – I know a few Christophers and some are Chris, and some are Topher and yours is always Christopher to me. I guess it’s like Kristine. I’m NOT that. Funny. Anyway. Rambling now.May 9, 2017 – 12:07 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @TheGoldenSpoons - What a great prompt! I wrote mine late, but it was fun thinking about all the different names I’ve been called. One thing we don’t realize about becoming a parent (or at least I didn’t) was how hard choosing a name for your child can be. I mean, they are stuck with it FOREVER, right? I like my name and the names we chose for our girls – although, the oldest has recently announced that she does not like her name and inquired how one would go about officially changing it. HA!May 8, 2017 – 8:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Names are so weird. I was thinking at first about what we’re called, mostly because Tucker was going from Mommy to Mom and I do NOT like… but then it made me think of names in general… and you’re right. Choosing a name for our child is HUGE. YIKES to your oldest wanting to change hers. My BFF from college, who has a high schooler, recently agreed to a name and gender identity change. I guess some names don’t end up working, and others define us. Or something? It’s so much more complicated the more you think about it. For me at least.May 9, 2017 – 12:10 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Choosing a name for baby seems to be an easy task before we actually step into it.It is the hardest task ever.May 12, 2017 – 1:28 amReplyCancel

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