Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What's in a Name? - Making a New Case for Naming Your Children After Friends and Family Members

(As those of you who are my regular readers know, I used to publish on Tuesdays and Fridays.  On Tuesdays I would "review" pop culture, fashion, food or just life in general, whatever was on my mind.  On Fridays I would review movies and books.  However, these days I mostly review movies and books, and you can still find my reviews and me here every Friday, but once in awhile I am still prone to "review," OK, rant about something I am thinking about and this is one of those days).

What's in a name?  A-LOT!

I've been thinking about this topic for awhile, and it's been nagging at me, so I thought I would get it out of my head and onto my blog so I don't have it nagging at me anymore.  I mean, you know how epiphanies are and this was kind of an epiphany for me.

Picking a name for a new baby can be almost as stressful as planning for the new arrival. 

It's not easy coming up with a name that not only the new parents both love but everyone in the family approves of.  Some new parents-to-be won't even give away the names under consideration so as to avoid early disapproval of parents and loved ones.

I know, because my own mother offered to pay me $100 to NOT name my daughter Ashley.  She thought I was naming her after Ashley Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind," which is not necessarily a bad thing. Not sure why that was an issue for her.  Actually I was naming her after Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises."  And before any of YOU smirk disapprovingly, the name Ashley was not yet on the radar as the most popular girls' name of the 1980's.  So now, in some ways, I wish I had listened to my mother.  And $100 in 1984 meant something.

But seriously, I still love the name even if it turned out to be a rather common name in my daughter's age group.

I grew up in a family where bestowing a family name on a child was common practice.  I don't think that is a very common practice any more. Today young parents want to come up with a new name, but I think they are doing their children a disservice, which I will get to in a minute.

My sister was born first and was given my grandmother's - my Dad's mother's- name for her middle name. 

Then my brother arrived and my mother was so grateful to her doctor for getting her through two caesareans that she gave him her doctor's last name as a middle name AND a family name so he had two middle names. 

My brother actually didn't appreciate that at all, but when his own son came along, he gave him our Dad's name as his middle name.


Then when I came along, my mother gave me her name as my middle name.


Both my sister and I had names with "Rose" in it - she was Rosemary, I was Rosellen.  My mother loved roses, I guess. They called her Posy and me Rosy. 


I know...awwww. 

The reason why she was Posy and I was Rosy is lost to the ages.

Rosellen is an unusual name, especial the spelling, and everyone always mispronounced it, calling me Rozelyn, Roselyn and other mispronunciations which embarrassed me growing up so I got into the habit of saying, "Just call me Rosy."  But since my mother loved the name Rose so much and it played such a big role in my family, I wanted to pass it on to my daughter so I gave her that middle name despite the fact that Ashley Rose sounded a lot like a china pattern.

As for my son, I was able to find a name that wasn't as popular as Ashley would become, though Alexander was the most popular name in Europe at the time.  That was fine since I considered myself a bit worldly and since I didn't live in Europe I didn't think there would be a whole bunch of Alexanders.  Likewise, I felt the worst nickname he could get would be Alex which I liked.  Wouldn't you know, though, the mother of one of his friends insisted on calling him Al. Ugh. But for his middle name I wanted to give him a family name.  I would have given him my father's name as a middle name but my brother had already given his son that name, so instead, I combined the names of a grandfather and a great-grandfather.

Unfortunately, my son didn't feel the same way about bestowing family names on his children when his children were born, except for one son who is named after his wife's grandfather. But I understand.  Everyone has to name their children names that they like so this was not something that I pushed on my own children.

Many mothers and fathers like to name children after themselves.  Robert might name his son Robert Jr. or Robert the II and call him junior.  Some people would say naming a child after yourself is a bit of a conceit, honoring oneself like that and maybe it is. But that is anyone's choice. However, I am not actually big on naming the child after yourself just because I think it would be confusing to have two people in the house with the same name. 

Yes, it can be an ego thing to name your child after yourself, a way for you to live on after you have gone.  And that's fine.  I totally get that. Though I am not a big fan of a Jr. or a II or III, I do believe in passing a family name along but it might not be for the reason you think.

I have thought of a more powerful reason to pass on family names to your children or to name a child after a special friend. 

When you name your child after a beloved family member or a close friend, you are actually giving the CHILD, not you, something special.  As that child grows up and you talk about their namesake, the child will feel very special that he or she is named after someone you loved.  You can tell the child stories about the person and the child can then aspire to the accomplishments and characteristics of the family member of the other loved one.

If I had named my son after my Dad, I could have reminded him that he was named after a talented musician (he could play any instrument), a man who loved hot cars, who always wanted to be a cowboy and who was an extremely generous person.  I could go on and on.  I feel that knowing you are named after someone special makes you feel special.

However, my son knows he is named after my mother's Swedish father who was known as "Prince" among his Swedish neighbors because of his proud bearing. He was a fine carpenter who built the home my mother grew up in. 

Because of that Swedish heritage, my son became interested in Sweden, so interested in fact that he spent a college semester there and met many of his relatives who still lived there. I also wanted to throw my own Dad into the mix too, so I combined that name with the name of my Dad's father's father.

I know I felt special that I had my mother's name as my middle name.

and whenever I sign my full name, I think of her and feel good that she wanted to give me her name. 

My first name is from a good friend of my mother's, though the spelling is a bit different.  Every year on my birthday, her friend would send me a birthday card with a dollar in it (back when a dollar was worth something).  I had never met this friend but when my mother reminded me who the card and money was from and why she was sending it to me, I felt very special.  I was one of those kids who wanted to be someone's favorite.  I knew that my sister was my grandmother's favorite, my brother had an uncle who doted on him and so this little gesture from my mother's friend and knowing that I was named after her made me feel like I was someone's favorite too.  Those kinds of things are important to kids and gives them confidence that they are lovable.

So you parents-to-be, don't get mad at your parents if they suggest some family names. 

Give it some thought.  Who in life do you admire who would be a good role model for your child?  Consider bestowing that name on your child - it can just be the middle name - and then sharing that person's life with your child as the child grows, thus giving your child something to aspire to.

And for those of you who have already named a child after a family member, good for you.

But be sure to tell your child where the name came from and who the person was and share the reasons why you named your child after that person so your child will feel a bond to that person, aspire to be like that person and just feel special that he or she has the name of someone you admired.  It's a seemingly small thing, but I think that helps create confidence in children - to know that their names have meaning. 

Lord knows, we all need all of the confidence we can get growing up in this crazy world.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I feel better now!

Thanks for reading!


See you Friday 

for my review of  


"The Mountain Between Us" 


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why Long Distance Relationships Don't Work

You might think this post is about long distance romantic relationships.  Though I have had to endure those, too, it's not.  It's about trying to maintain a relationship with family members who live far away.

My Mom and Dad were born, lived their lives and died, all in the same town.  My Dad was an only child, but my mother had five brothers and a sister and almost all of them also lived in that same town all of their lives.  That's the way most people lived in the mid-20th century.

However, the Baby Boomer generation felt differently and many of us wanted to experience the world outside of our small towns.  I grew up in Michigan and for some reason, everyone wanted to move to California so that's what I did. 

Right after college I moved to California and, except for some brief back and forth forays due to some unhappy situations in my life, that's where I stayed until a few years ago when I moved to Washington State.

I am sure my parents were not happy that I decided to make that move, especially my mother.  But another thing about parents of Baby Boomers - they all had pretty stiff upper lips.  If they were upset about it, they didn't really show it, though over the years my mother would say things like, "Well, if you didn't live so far away..."

I know it's difficult for young people to even grasp this concept, but back when I was in my 20's and 30's,  there were no cell phones with unlimited calling, no email, no Skype, no Facetime.  If you wanted to talk to your parents or they to you, you had to call long distance. 

Now for my younger readers, long distance was not just a description of how far away we lived from each other, but the term for calling someone who didn't live in your area code, and a long distance call cost quite a bit of money.  My mother would almost invariably say during what was already a short phone call, "Well I don't want to run up your phone bill," which was code that it was time to get off the phone.  It was also code for "Goodbye," because she would then abruptly hang up the phone!

Likewise, you could call collect, which I did quite often in my youth when I worked jobs that didn't pay much.  Calling collect meant you talked to a telephone operator first who placed the call.  When your Mother or Dad answered the phone, the operator would say, "Collect call from Rosy. Will you accept the charges?" and then the call would go onto their phone bill.  It was also not uncommon to try to get around the charge by arranging with your parents ahead of time that you would place a collect call when you arrived home so they would know you had arrived safely. When asked by the operator if they would accept the charges, they would say no but they knew you were home safely. A free long distance call.  Hey, we had to be tricky like that.

The other way we communicated was by writing letters. 

Yes, you heard me.  I am not talking about typing out an email, but actually putting pen to paper and writing a letter in longhand.  If I was on a roll, I would write my parents once a week to let them know how I was doing.  I still have some of those letters because my Mother kept them.  My Mother and my Dad would write long letters.  My mother's letters were full of details about her social life, potlucks she attended, what she ate, I mean right down to the ingredients in the food, who she saw and whether they looked older than she did and other stream of consciousness, whereas my Dad's letters were always philosophical and might have included his most recent "Letter to the Editor."  Both were comforting in their own ways.

I didn't get home much, especially after I had kids.  Airfare was more expensive in those days, and I didn't have much money.  My parents would come out for visits every year or so, mostly my mother by herself, especially to see her grandkids.

At the time, it didn't seem like such a big deal.  I knew my parents loved me and were out there in the world and that seemed to be enough.  I didn't give much thought to the fact that I hardly knew much about their lives and them as people because I interacted with them so rarely.  Now that they are gone, I think about that a lot and wish things had been different.

So since I left home, I shouldn't have been surprised that my kids would do the same, right?  Wrong.  It was just as much of a shock to me as it must have been to my mother.  I had this idea that our kids thought we were cool and we would all hang out together forever. I liked my kids and looked forward to having them nearby as adult friends.  It's a nice thought but these days our kids have to go where the jobs are and where their hearts take them.  As it was, our kids grew up in a small town that had more rich retired people and tourists than young people with careers, so off they went to college and they never lived with us again.

When my kids left home I tried to stay relevant.  Looking back, I can see that I just didn't have a clue about how to be a long distance Mom.  It hurt my feelings when they didn't answer their phones. They both had cell phones and I knew they knew it was me.  Or when they did answer, our conversations were often short and terse.  I took it personally.  So I decided to avoid feeling like that, they should call me when they had the time.  I figured that was better.  That way, they would call when they had the time to talk.  That worked a bit better, but they still didn't have much to say.  I guess I had forgotten how happy I was to get out on my own and how little I had in common with my own parents when I was 18 and knew everything.

These days it is the most natural thing in the world for our kids to move out of the house and have their own lives.  Some go to college, some join the military, some get transferred to other cities.  It is probably more unusual for people to live in one town all of their lives.  And we want our children to have their own lives, right?  And these days, it's not easy for our kids to get started.  It's expensive.  So I am proud and happy that both of my kids are launched, as they say, and are successful and have their own families.

But I'm not happy that I don't see them much. 

When your kids don't live close by, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a close relationship.  When you think that for 18 years, people lived in your house, you saw them every day, you thought you had the same values because they obeyed the rules, right?  You ate together, you traveled together, you played games together, you had shared histories.  You thought you knew them, and then one day, they are gone and suddenly you discover they have their own values and ideas about how they want to live.  "When did you start eating tuna sandwiches?"  "Since when do you like jazz?"

Suddenly your kids are creating their own histories and it's not with you.  And that's what's wrong with long distance relationships.  Without a shared history, it is difficult to have a close relationship.  You just don't know them anymore.

A shared history is often the main thing that keeps couples together during difficult times and the same is true of your relationships with your family members.  You lose touch with who they really are because you no longer have the same experiences.  You are not creating memories together anymore.

I love my children and I know they love me, but now that they are adults with spouses and children (and I will get to grandchildren in a minute), their own families and lives are their primary focus, as they should be, but the added barriers of distance and time make it difficult for us all to share out lives.

Yes, we visit but I feel that visiting family is a strange thing.  When you don't see your family very often, when you do see them the push is on to make every minute count.  For example, if your adult children lived in the same town, you might get together once a week for Sunday dinner or to play golf or to watch your grandchildren play sports.  You would all go about your business most days, but get together when you wanted to.  But when you don't see your family members very often and then you do for a long weekend or a week's visit, the pressure is on to make the most of your time together, doing things together for entire days, 24/7, and likely disrupting normal schedules.  It's no wonder that family gatherings at Christmas and Thanksgiving have such a bad reputation for arguments and dread.  But why would we expect to just naturally have a wonderful time with people we rarely see?

We can maintain relationships with our family members by calling regularly, using Skype, even writing letters (gasp!), but in our crazy, busy lives, even those little niceties can fall by the wayside.

And then there is the whole issue of grandchildren who live far away.  Likewise, we grandparents want our grandchildren to know who we are and to love us, which is not easy when we only see them a few times a year.  Growing up, my grandparents lived across the street so I saw them all of the time.

But these days it is not unusual for grandparents to live far away. I actually wrote about that in a blog post called "Parenting and Grandparenting from a Distance."  Re-reading that one, I see that I gave some good advice, some of which I haven't followed myself!

So you can see how long distance relationships not only don't work very well, but can lead to isolation, regrets, loneliness and the feeling that you are no longer relevant in your children's lives.

So long distance parents and grandparents, what do we do about it?

Though I will always believe that long distance relationships don't really work very well, there are some things we can do to try to make ithem work.

  • Take the initiative to create memories. 
By that I don't mean whine to your kids about how lonely and isolated you feel.  I did that and believe me it doesn't work.  No, I mean, try to figure out how you can make some memories together and act on it.  My daughter and I have started a mother/daughter vacation that we hope will be a regular thing.  Last year we met up and toured Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque together, just the two of us, which, of course I wrote about ("How to Have a Successful Mother/Daughter Getaway..."). 

It included some of our favorite things: eating and shopping!


When you go on a trip together, away from each other's routines, it feels more like a fun vacation (which it is) than a forced visit.

  • Accept your adult children for who they are now.
I know it's difficult to think of that little tow-headed girl as a grown-up with her own beliefs that might not be yours, but you have to accept that she has grown up and respect her as she is now.  My mother was still telling me to stand up straight and smile more when I was in my 40's, which didn't do much for a happy adult relationship.  So when you do get to see your adult children, don't go into mother mode, nag them about their posture or try to change them, get to know the adults they are now.

  • Text and email ideas, stories and information you think might be of interest.
It is difficult to stay close to people when you are not sharing daily or weekly events.  Though you are far away, you can still keep your kids in your life by sharing your observations and ideas via text and email.  Don't necessarily expect a reply or get upset if you don't get one.  You are letting them know they are in your thoughts and they are learning some things about you too.

  • Be a supportive listener.
Your kids probably have busier lives than you do now, so when they do contact you, make it about them, not you, so you can be a part of the experiences they are having, even if just vicariously.

  • Keep in contact with your grandchildren. 

If they are little, send them cards and Skype or talk to them on the phone.  When they are older, maybe they will actually let you friend them on Facebook! Visit when you can.  Try to be there for the big events. It's easier for you to travel than for a family with little children.

  • Relish the memories and shared history that you do have with your children and grandchildren and continue to try to create new ones.

  • And then... plan to move in with them!

So my fellow long distance parents and grandparents, hang in there!  As my mother used to say, "It will get better."

How do you handle your long distance family relationships?


Thanks for reading!

See you Friday

for my review of

"Our Kind of Traitor"


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Mom All By Herself on Mother's Day

We all raise our children to be independent.  Well, most of us do, I hope.  We don't want our 35 year old moving into the basement with his Lazy Boy and his 65 inch TV just as we start our retirement, now, do we?

But raising our children to be independent has a dark side for us mothers out there.

I really loved my children and enjoyed their growing up years, but I also looked forward to knowing them as adults and being a part of their lives.  However, we never know how things will turn out and loves and career often take our children far away from us.

My mother had to deal with that.  I moved to California from Michigan the day after I graduated from college.

Off I went, just like that. It was 1970.  What can I say? In those days, everyone from Michigan wanted to move to California.  We wanted to be a part of "The Summer of Love" but didn't realize we had already missed it!

My mother's heart must have sunk when I announced I was moving 2000 miles away, but being the stoic Swedish woman that she was, she never said much about it except the occasional "if you weren't so far away."  I think when I left, my Dad gave me $10. It was a symbolic gesture. Somehow he knew I had it all figured out (he later shared with me that he thought I was so brave to make that move. I could tell he wished he had done it himself).  I was 22.  Don't all twenty-two year olds have it all figured out?

So I lived my life in California, married, had children and only ventured back to Michigan to see my parents occasionally and they would come out to see me when they could.  It was only when I had children that I realized what I was missing by living so far from my Mother and Dad.

My mother spent many Mother's Days without her children.

So now history repeats itself.  My son and daughter both live far away so this last Mother's Day, I found myself alone.  Hubby had to go on a business trip so I was really alone.  But before you point fingers at him, his absence on Mother's Day actually bothered me less than my childrens' absence.  I mean, I am not Hubby's mother (though sometimes it feels like I am)!

But we say we want our children to be independent and have their own lives so we have to walk the talk, and my children are living their own lives just as I wanted them to do.

So when Mother's Day rolls around it evokes all kinds of emotions.  It can be a happy day when your family is around you and paying homage to what a great mother you are.  But for some of us whose mothers have passed on, it can be a sad day.  For many who wanted to be mothers and were not able to be, also a sad day.  And for those of us who are mothers but whose children are not close by, it can also be a lonely day especially when our hubbies are gone too.

So what did I do all by myself on Mother's Day?

First, I refused to be sad.

I spent some time with my mother.

And then I spent some time with my children, because even though we are not physically together, I have them, and my mother, with me always through my happy memories. 




In the end, whether we are alone or with our families, we will always have those memories. 

I was alone on Mother's Day, but in the end Mother's Day is just a day, a day like every other day because every day I think of my children. 

But I am fortunate.  My children, despite their distance, seem to like me.  They keep in touch and we see each other several times a year.  So we continue to make memories. There is no guarantee that if we all lived in the same town that we would get along and see each other all of the time, so I am happy that we are as close as we can be.  And I am glad that they are happy and successful.  Because wasn't that the whole point?

We can't control what will happen to our children, what choices they will make.  We can only give them the wings to fly away and be independent and hope that those wings will hold them up.  And that one day those wings will bring them back (this is totally metaphorical. I don't literally want them moving back in)!

But I felt so strongly about those wings that I had them permanently imprinted on my arm so I would never forget my role (and I was in my 60's when I did it - but don't tell my mother)!

What does Mother's Day mean to me?

It's a great day to honor our mothers and for mothers to think about their children, but we don't really need a "day" to tell us to do that. We can do that any day and we should.  And while our loved ones are around, we should be sure we tell them what they mean to us so we don't have any regrets.  And then when we can't be together, we have our memories which are timeless and eternal.

So on my Mother's Day by myself, I spent time with those memories, reminiscing, remembering all of the fun and the stories and the funny things my kids used to say, and then being so glad I have such wonderful, successful adults. I knew I had done my job.  I had given them the wings to fly away. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, sad and all alone, I felt grateful for my little family.  I had all of those memories to keep me company.

And then I went out and, with a smile on my face, treated myself to a new outfit and a nice Mother's Day meal...all by myself...but not alone.

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday

for my review of



The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at