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I found out this week that I am getting a niece.
I couldn’t be more thrilled. Apparently, after all the boys my parents produced, there is no testosterone left! This will be the 4th granddaughter. Who would have ever imagined, well, other than my Nana. She wishes girls on everyone so they have to experience a little bit of her “pain”. (She had 7 daughters…need I say more?) Interestingly enough, finding out that this little peanut is a girl has sparked a name game for my family. And everyone has an opinion.
Which got me thinking. (Batten down the hatches! Yeah, I know.)
My first name is Melissa, not Missy. However, I’ve gone by Missy my whole life. Some people like it, most don’t. And, surprisingly they tell me that. “Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood! Missy? Wait, that’s your real name? You should totally change it.” But I don’t, because I like my name. Yep, even if you knew someone who knew someone who had a dog named Missy. To me, Missy is a happy name. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s who I am and I am proud of it.
Now, Melissa, that took me longer to love.
Melissa was the BIG name in the years surrounding my birth. There were 5 Melissas and 2 Missys (well, one Missy and one Missie) in my 9th-grade Spanish class. It was common and I was never the kind of little girl that liked to blend in. Shocking, I know, but I liked to stand out. For years I went by funny nicknames, Native American names (my uncle is Navajo), even Pig Latin, whatever, in order to feel like I wasn’t just like everybody else. I told my mama that I hated my name on several occasions. I wanted to change it to Sunrise or Desert Blossom or something similar while in the 7th grade. The hippie/tree hugger has always been in me… nature vs. nurture? Back to the point.
8 years ago this month, I gave birth to the most amazing, cutest, fattest little baby boy that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I held that little round ball of deliciousness and had something amazing happen. I knew his name. A name that Manly and I hadn’t even talked about. We looked into his big blue eyes and the spirit spoke to us and let us know that this little boy had a life before he came to earth. We knew with assurance what his name was. And we’ve never once regretted it.
Since then, we’ve named 3 little girls. And each time, that child’s little spirit whispered to us her name. Some people didn’t like the names of our children and they let us know. “It’s too old-fashioned! That’s a 90-year-old’s name! Why not Jean, or Gertrude, or Maria Conchita wowowowhatever!” But my gem was my gem. My Lou Lou had the spark from the start. And my baby has a connection with her special auntie in heaven that is unbelievably precious.
It was in those moments that I learned the uniqueness of my name. Melissa means ‘Honeybee’. A honey bee is a hard worker. A honey bee spreads beauty every time it pollinates a flower. A honey bee flies fast and furious and never sits still. A honeybee is an incredible individual who works together with a million other individuals to create something amazing. That little bee gets the job done or dies trying. And there is something so beautiful in that.
That sweet bee and I have a lot in common.
So, what’s in a name? Really? When you name that infant in your arms, what does it mean? Maybe it means more than we know. Maybe you were you before you ever met your parents. Maybe you have awesome things to accomplish and a purpose for living. Maybe that name is a blessing, and not a curse. Maybe, that name is YOU.
And you are something pretty special.