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A client gave me a gardenia the other day. I love gardenias. They are so beautiful! Their scent, the thick white petals, the copious amount of blossoms on the bush… just lovely. I kept the flower next to me until it turned into a smooshed brown mass of deadness that no longer smelled sweet before throwing it out. Until then, though, I had to have smelled it a hundred or more times a day.

There was a time I was going to change my name to gardenia… lowercase g, no last name. I actually went by gardenia for about three years, determined to legally change my name once I’d finished midwifery school in 2002. I did worry about the difficulties of having only one name, telling people only a lowercase g and no last name, but I just loved gardenia so much it seemed worth it to me.

I hated my Barbara name in English. It was so old. Barbra. Ugh. Just so old sounding. I was named for my Nana, who I loved and who my mom adored and I knew if I changed my name it would break my mom’s heart, but I just really hated my name. And my middle name was even worse! Ellen. Blech! Now, Barbara in Spanish… that was nice. Savage. I liked that alright. But it didn’t have the same connotation in English. In English it meant old lady.

So, I was in midwifery school in El Paso, Texas where I spoke Spanish 99% of the time, even dreamt in Spanish, and was gardenia this and gardenia that. During one long labor, an older abuela took me aside and asked me if I knew what the gardenia was in Mexico and I said I didn’t. She whispered that it was the Mexican flower of death and I was mortified. What was I to do?

There really wasn’t anything to do but go back to Barbara which, suddenly didn’t sound so bad after all. Bárbara, the feral midwife… could I live with that? Better than gardenia, the midwife of death, right?

After that night, I never looked back and have always been Barbara… or rather, Barb. And as much as I didn’t like it before, I love it now!

Maybe I just needed to grow into it.

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Reader Comments (1)

I worried a bit about that when I named my children. I hope that they like their names and even if they are not thrilled with them that they will grow to like them. I went classic and family with the boys Evan, Harold (Harry), and Daniel (Danny). My girl I had to mix it up a bit since I knew she was my last one and I went with a floral name since I love flowers and named her Lily.

I was never especially fond of my name because it was so common but I never remember hating it except when people shortened it. My husband has had a long battle with his name as his parents named him one thing and then called him another but that nickname ended up on his SS card so that is what he went with until he joined the military and they (in their infinite wisdom) went with his birth certificate name which he hates. They also forced a middle name on me despite the fact that I never had one my whole life and didn't add one when I change my name to my married name. There was a box to fill so they filled it.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAwesomemom

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