Monday, September 5, 2011

Emma & Em -- Who Knew?

Growing up I knew no other Emmas, except my great aunt, for whom I was named. Emma simply wasn't popular. My parents had very old-fashioned and/or scriptural names for all 7 of us. While all of the other kids at school were Jenny, Amy, Angela, Jason, Julie, Matthew, and Megan, we were Naomi, Emma, Rachel, Samuel, Sarah, Enos and Ruth. We were born between the 70's and 80's. And it's true -- we didn't have "popular" names. {{Top Names of the 70's}} {{Top Names of the 80's}} (Well, Rachel and Sarah were more common than the rest of ours at that time.)

As a side note, do you know that Baby Name Books get their entries from scouring the Social Security Name data base? I gave my daughter an original "made up" name and every year after she was born I googled it to see how quickly it would appear on a baby name list. It took 2 years. And now if I google it, I find people's blogs with their baby's pics and lo and behold -- that baby shares the same name as mine! Who knew?

Anyhoo--- So, my name was very uncommon for my generation. Maybe I wouldn't have felt like I stuck out, if we weren't the family that stuck out in our town. I mean, you have to realize that my mom had a new baby on average every 14 months. That's 7 kids in an 8 1/2 year time span. Additionally, for many of those years my parents owned this full-size red van with a hand-glider airbrushed on the side along with the iridescent words "West Winds" next to it. Everyone knew our van. Just picture this large family with quirky or unusual names gallivanting around town in this hippie-mobile. Could we be any more conspicuous? I think not.

Whenever older people would ask my name and I'd tell them, I often heard, "That was my mother's name" or " grandmother's name" in return. Once a German exchange student said that her dog back home was named Emma. Suffice it to say, I guess I always felt like I sort of stood out a little, when all I really ever wanted to do was blend in.

While there were at least a dozen Emilys at any of the schools I attended, I was always the only Emma. Something I noticed quickly was that many friends to the Emilys often referred to them as "Em". But I-- I was always just Emma. Just Emma.

The first time someone addressed me as "Em" was in college. It sort of caught me off guard and I wasn't sure that I even liked it. I never said anything to the person because she was such a close friend, and I knew that it somehow signified our close relationship.

When I was a newlywed and newly pregnant, there was a couples night at some friends of ours on campus. It was a small church university, so our church friends were also our school friends. Every Monday night we would rotate apartments and do things like share an inspirational message, play a few games, read from the scriptures and eat! It was on one of these Monday nights one of the other couples was asking us if we had any baby names picked out yet -- which we hadn't. Someone half-jokingly suggested if it's a girl to name her after me. Come to find out - in front of everyone at that very moment, mind you - that my spouse did not "care for" my name. So, here I already felt like I stood out - and now I felt even worse because I felt like my husband hated my name. I was young and naive, and yes, I took it personally.

But here's a funny thing that happened. About 18 months before that, the movie, Kindergarten Cop was released. One of the little girls in the kindergarten class was named Emma. I had watched the movie during my senior year of high school and was quite surprised that a new movie would show a little girl with such an "old fashioned" name, and she was adorable too!

Anyway - it wasn't long after that movie that people started naming their baby girls Emma. It was sort of weird to me at first. I figured it was just a phase. By 1995 though, Emma was in the top 50 names and by 2000 it had reached the top 10. And then from 2003 - 2010 it has remained in the top 3. It is soooo odd to me that a name I did not like growing up, so many other people seemed to like. A few years ago, when I was with Big-D, he made the comment that he really liked my name. That shocked me and intrigued me too. He said the name "fit" me; that it seemed to resemble something pure and simple, yet unique and beautiful. After that, I began to see my name differently. I wanted to be a simple and pure, yet unique and beautiful person. I wanted to live up to my name all of a sudden.

The neighborhood I live in now is the longest place I've ever lived in my adult life - going on 8 1/2 years. As I have gotten to know a few people, they have called me "Em". Again, I didn't really like it at first. I sort of felt like, "What gives you the right to call me Em when I've introduced myself as Emma? If I had wanted to be called Em, I would have said my name is Em!" But again, I never really said anything, because I knew the intention was harmless, and they were just trying to be friendly.

It's only been in the past 2-3 years that I have really come to love my name. I understand its meaning and origin and for whom I was named much better now. And I kind of like being the only 30-something I know with that name. I guess as I went through my divorce and the whole, "re-discovering Emma" process, I have also come to learn that I like me and that if being me means I "stand out" sometimes -- so what? I'd rather stand out than blend in because it means I am being myself.

As far as "Em" goes, it has definitely started growing on me the past year. I don't mind it at all when close friends call me that. And I actually like it when men of "interest" call me that (hehe). Other than that though, when someone addresses me as Em, the voice in my head starts bobbin' at the neck, smarting off, "Oh no you di-unt; you don't knowwwww me." Hahaha.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, "Emma", from Kindergarten Cop!


Susie said...

I think we are go through that identity crisis. I am Susie here but to my in-person-friends I am Sue but I formally introduce myself as Susan. Susan always sounded more grown up and professional:-)

greenolive said...

I just go by Sarah. I was able to blend in and I always think of Sarah Plain and Tall. If I went by Sally or Sadie I would stand out too much.

Cassie the Sassie Lassie said...

Haha! We love that movie! In second grade, my teacher asked if she could call me 'Cassie' instead of Cassandra. I couldn't have cared less, and have since gone by Cassie. Not everyone knows that my full name is Cassandra. But I like both.

okeydokeyifine said...

I am glad you like your name. It was chosen with thought and care. We did not mean to "scar" you, nor the others.
An Emma by anyother name would just not be the same.

KiennaP said...

I too think that your name fits you perfectly! :) Yeah, a lot of times people pronounce my name wrong. When I tell them it rhymes with Sienna though, they always go, "ooooooooh, ok," and then they figure out how to say my name. In third grade I met this girl, and we sorta became friends. We started talking about the first day of school and how we became friends. Then she caught me off guard by saying, "Yeah, when I first met you I thought you were a really weird person because your name is really weird and isn't that great, and you were really short and quiet. I just thought you were a weird girl. But then I got to know you and started liking you." In my mind i was like, "excuuuuse me?? What did you just say to me???" Haha. But yeah! I am glad about my name. I love how it is unique, too. Who knows, one day my name will become more known, and I'll be able to say, "yep, i was one of the first ones with that name!"

Puphigirl said...

As a child when I would meet people and tell them my name, Naomi, I would also get the, "My Grandma, Aunt or (some other old lady) had that name". I've only met one other person my age and 2 younger girls with my name.

Also, for some reason my name gets misspelled. I don't understand that, you spell it how it sounds basically. And IT"S IN THE BIBLE PEOPLE! Look it up!

Oh, and for some reason people want to pronounce it NI-omi, not Naomi. If you are British or from the South I will forgive you a bit because your a's in other words have an i sound to them.

Lately, I give people a mnemonic device to pronounce my name. "Naomi, think of a horse, Naaaaay-omi."

I do know that there are variations on my name, especially in the Amish and Mexican cultures. There's Neomi, Neoma, Neomah, Naoma, Naomah, Naomie, Noami, and Noemi.

The Willeyes said...

I love your name...and I love that movie :) Sorry, I'm probably one of the "Em" abusers :)

Emily said...

I so have to agree with you on this! Growing up I was ALWAYS Emily. Not Em, Or BLAH, Emmy!! NEVER EMMY! (Well Doug Bradt always called me Elizabeth.) BUT, I have a co-worker that calls me Em, at first I HATED it now, I'm getting used to it. Thinking about it, My mom did call me Em SOMETIMES.

It PAINS me to hear Emily (niece) called Emmy. I will NEVER call her that!!!! ;) (Sorry Ruth)

I have a neighbor that calls me Emmy...I don't know how to politely tell her not to. (Ira cringes every time she calls me that. HELP!!!