To young mothers: It’s all in a name

This bit of cheap advice is for every woman about to give birth. Be very, very thoughtful about what you name your child.My motto was: “I had it last, so I get to name it” but that may not be such a good plan, after all. Passing on the name of someone you love may be a kind, flattering thing, but you are just begging for trouble. It is even less wise if you never plan to call that child by that name.

Yes, I was born Nancy Jean Hart. The daughter of Nancy Rose Hart. I suspect that because my dad was John Thomas Francis Hart, Jr. and named my older brother John Thomas Francis Hart, III, that someone somehow felt obliged to repeat my mother’s name, as well. But my folks did not take the Southern route and call my Nancy-Jean. Instead they called me Jeannie. For decades I was Jeannie Hart.

Then upon seeing my first byline, I shortened it to Jean. Jean sounded ever so much more serious and sophisticated, don’t you know. Then, finally I married and became Jean Hart Gillette. It seemed like a natural transition to me. But to my parents, as they drew up the family trust, I would always be Nancy Jean and so they wrote me in as Nancy Jean Gillette — which is my name, and yet it is not. Just ask the bank.

Once my dad died, the fun began, as I started to wade through transferring this, inheriting that, changing ownership of the next thing. Who, they asked, as if it were written in Chinese, is “Nancy Jean Gillette?” It’s not Nancy Rose Hart, is it? “No. That was my mom.”

Surely you can’t be the same person as Jean Hart Gillette. That is far too great a leap of logic and besides — and they made this part crystal clear with facial expressions and tones of voice — your are probably just trying to steal this paltry amount of money from some hapless senior and we cannot be liable.

I found myself required to practically frame my marriage license and hang it around my neck to prove that Nancy Jean Hart truly and legally became Jean Hart Gillette, and is one and the same person. It’s exhausting.

Now for my sad confession. To honor my mother, I named my daughter Nancy Hart Gillette. It seemed so dear at the time. Unwittingly, I set my child up for all this same legal fun and very probably, a great deal more.

Someday, someone will appreciate (as I did until now) that three generations share a special name, but today’s fraud-filled, suspicious, litigious society has sucked all the joy out of such maudlin, affectionate and highly confusing nonsense.

I am beginning to finally understand why parents are chosing Zyddnee, Kcristii and Shawneequa rather than Susan, Ann and Mary. Never mind that no one will ever spell them right. The banks are most grateful.



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