Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Did You Get Your Name?

My Rhody Blogger friend, Carla, has started a new series on her blog called Mom Before Mom. She wants to make sure her daughters get a chance to know her as not only mom, but the person she was before she became mom. I think it's a brilliant idea.

I've bought more books than you can count trying to get my grandparents and parents to document the stories that helped them become that person I love. Unfortunately it's too late to get those stories for some of them now. And while I don't have children, I love the idea of documenting my history. My stories.

Every week Carla is going to provide a writing prompt, and I'm thrilled to take part.

Prompt #1: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

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Sarah (pron.: /ˈsɛərə/)
The Hebrew name Sarah indicates a woman of high rank and is translated as "princess."

There is no romantic story behind how I got my first name. I wasn't named after a beloved family member or friend. There was no favorite artist, musician or actress that inspired my moniker. My parents chose to name me Sarah simply because they liked the name.

It turns out, my paternal great-grandmother was also named Sarah but I was not named after her.

My middle name is the same as my mother's and my beloved Aunt Anne (though I would always tell her she spelled it wrong, hers was the traditional spelling).

I've always liked my name. While at times I found it a bit boring and traditional, I loved that it meant Princess. It was a name that never embarrassed me, there weren't a lot of Sarah's in my classes (though it was the 11th most popular name the year I was born). It wasn't unique where people had a hard time trying to pronounce it.

I never had a cool nickname growing up. Sure, my mom called me RahRah, my dad lovingly called me Strawberry Shortcake and my grandfather always made me feel special by calling me Miss America, but I had no real nickname.

On the first day of school when the teachers took role call, I could never say "Excuse me, Mrs. X, please call me "some-super-cool-nickname". I was always just Sarah. And you know what? That's not all bad because while I may have felt a bit slighted my face never got red when the teacher called Aphrodite and my shy friend would say "Please, call me DeeDee." Note: there is absolutely nothing wrong with the name Aphrodite, it's beautiful, but was embarrassing for my friend when we were younger.

I tried to get a few nicknames to catch on, most notably Sam (my initials growing up) and Sa. Some close friends would call me Sam, but never on the regular and to this day only two people call me Sa (my neighbor Karen, who I would call Ka, and her dad).

As I'm sitting here I am remembering a pin that my grandparents brought me home as a souvenir from their trip to Hawaii (where, no doubt they went to see Penn State play in a bowl game). It was a white pin in the shape of a heart with a rainbow on it. It said Sarah and in smaller letters underneath is said Kala. The Hawaiin spelling of Sarah. I think I tried to get people to call me Kala for a while. In my high school German class I chose the name Soraya thinking it was the German spelling of Sarah (though honestly, I'm not sure that it is). I had an ex who was from Colombia and I liked when he would call me Sarita. Little Sarah. So while I never had a steady nickname, I did have quite a few different ones from different people.

Perhaps the thing that bothered me most about my name is when people would spell it wrong. Sara. That just looks wrong to me. It would annoy me if they would have ask "Sarah with an 'h'?" Yes, that is the correct way to spell it. It would annoy me more if they just left the h off.  I get the irony since my middle name is spelled Ann.

I never had dreams of changing my name. I would sometimes wish there was an i so I could draw it with a cute little heart over top, or that I had a cool androgynous name like Alex. I  always loved my Australian pen-pal's name Jocelyn, but I never really wanted to change mine. I figured when the time came I could adorn my baby girl with one of those adorable and less-traditional names. Funny thing, the older I get the more I'm drawn back to traditional names.

I found it cool that there were so many songs about Sarah's.

The only part of my name that was difficult growing up was my last name. It was an easy name to tease. I never felt it was quite right because it was such an Irish name, while the majority of the heritage I knew about is German (funny enough, my married name is German though my husband's heritage is majority Irish).

For that reason, I didn't have a hard time changing in when I got married even though I married into a mouthful of a name that nobody can spell or pronounce.

I didn't feel like I lost a connection with my family by changing my name. I'm so close with them it went beyond the name; we've got blood. With my new family my new name gave me an instant connection and I kind of loved that.
What about you? How did you get your name? Hop on over to Carla's blog to link up your story!


  1. I am loving all the name stories! I too wish I had more stories written down before my mom and grandma passed away. I have a lot in my head but not a lot documented.

  2. I love Sarita! And I think it's so cool that in Hawaii Sarah is Kala. I tried to get nicknames to stick but without much success either. And I love finding out what a name means and well, as a kid, I can totally see princess being pretty damn cool. It still is =)

  3. I love the story of your name, and I really like that you get mad about the H but don't have the E...:) Its funny how people's names mostly fit them - you are definitely a SaraH (I've known a few Sara's they were definitely missing more than just the "H")

  4. I love these name stories. I could never call you Sa, because it reminds me of a girl I worked with at CVS who we called Sa. And I don't want her associated in any way with you (she was not a nice person)!!

  5. I love your name story. I used to give "Name Stories" as an assignment to my high school students and you'd be surprised how many people have never asked their parents where their name came from. I've always loved my name, chosen because my Mom loved the name from a neighbor's daughter!

  6. I love this - especially the song references. Great post :)

  7. I never had a cool nickname either and it drove me nuts.

  8. I think the 'correct' spelling thing is so difficult! My name is 'different,' but now my daughter's name is spelled the traditional way and NO ONE gets it right. Drives me crazy! Great post, I love reading all of these to see what we all thought of our names then, and now. Can't go wrong with a name that means princess, that's for sure ;-)

  9. I love your name story :) Sarah with an h, Ann with no e. Of course, I love your middle name too since my daughter is Sidney Ann, no e!

  10. These name story posts are so much fun to read. I love the name Sarah, I think it's classic and beautiful. :) xo

  11. What a great story! Love your name- just gorgeous and suits you wonderfully!

  12. I used to tell my om that I was going to get emancipated and change my names....Jennifer was uber popular in the 70's

  13. I love your name. My cousin is a Sarah. She never had a nickname, but we called her "Just Sarah" because of that!

  14. Love your beautiful name! Very classic! Your site is looking AWESOME too! Nice job!

  15. I know exactly what you mean about it being too late to get some of the stories now. To this day, and probably for the rest of my life, I will wish I could sit down one more time with my Gram and Gramp, and ask to hear stories about them that I never would have dreamed to asked about when I was in my early 20s and younger. This is a great post about your name! (Confession: I always ask how people spell their name, especially with names that have multiple variations, because I would feel horrible choosing the wrong spelling. It's gotten worse now that parents feel the need to not only use incredibly unique names for their children, but to also "customize" the spelling of traditional names. When I did daycare, lo those many years ago, I had a Kymbreleighe. Why, I ask you??)