What happens when you name your child, then change your mind about the name. Do you give your baby a new name? For some, the answer is yes.
In my case, I was the baby. That’s right. For the first nine months of my life I was called by a different name.
At birth I was named, Wendy Bell Stebbins, but called Wendy. As I mentioned, that was for the first 9 months. Perhaps this will explain both the birth of my neuroses and a lot about my mother. My Grandmother (bless her heart) vehemently told my mother that my name sounded like a boat. Not sure how soon after my grandmother’s proclamation it occurred, but my birth certificate shows,
BELL and then Margaret is typed above it.
My mother, who clearly was suffering from some bizarre Peter Pan obsession, found that everywhere she went mother’s were screaming for a girl named Wendy. She agonized over the realization that she had not selected the right name for her last born. Resolved to remedy the error of her ways, she then insisted that everyone begin calling me Elin.
And just in case you forgot…I was 9 months old.
My brother Rodger told me that he has a vivid memory of calling my name when my back was toward him, I was in a highchair, I did not turn around. After three attempts, Elin, Elin, EE-LIN, he checked that our mother was not within earshot then said, Wendy, in an exaggerated whisper. I of course turned around.
Later in 1967 (I was 4) Mom obtained a court date for the legal change of my name from, Wendy Margaret, to, Elinor
Margaret. Elinor after the aforementioned beloved grandmother (bless her heart) and my mother. Thankfully they continued to call me Elin.
For 48 years I despised the name Elinor.
Because my mom also saved a number of letters that she received from her mom, I also have come to know my grandmother. It has been such a gift to see them both in a different light, not as a mother, not as a grandmother, but as women. Strong, articulate, outspoken women.
Although I will never choose to go by Elinor, the name itself embodies a new sense of strength and for that I am quite grateful.
*This is a modified excerpt from an earlier post.