Don’t call us, we’ll call you

May 31, 2010

On naming

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 6:00 pm

If you’ve been following along at home, you know that I had a really hard time with the process of naming this baby girl.  It’s not that I didn’t grow up keeping a list of potential kids’ names (all 10-year-old girls do this, right?), but when it came time to actually do it, I had a lot of anxiety about the whole thing.  My two chief hang-ups were:

  1. In our LDS theology, we believe that we have existed for a long time before we are born on this earth.  And by for a long time, I mean, FOREVER.  Our spirits were in a pre-mortal state, awaiting the opportunity to gain a mortal body here.  So in light of this, I just kept thinking, doesn’t she already have a name??  How in the world have people been getting her attention all these years if she doesn’t have a name yet?
  2. The second, related concern is that naming is a way of claiming ownership.  This is also significant for us theologically (i.e. when we are baptized, we take Christ’s name upon us and confirm that we are His followers), but more of my thoughts about this are derived from my love of African-American literature.  Slaves were generally named or re-named by their owners, as a means of asserting ownership.  So I thought if I name this little girl, I am somehow claiming ownership of her.  But I have always considered parenthood to be more of a stewardship, and a mostly fluid one at that.

Taken together, it seemed entirely too much responsibility to exert over another human being, who is in fact a coexistent spirit with me.  Her mortal body is younger than mine, but her spirit may be just as old and developed.

So my solution to the problem was to give Neal the job of naming, while I merely vetoed those options that I didn’t like.  If you were at my baby shower, you know that Neal took that responsibility very seriously.  And by seriously, I mean that he gave me a 40-page document exploring the derivation of the name that he most wanted: Sage.

Probably one of the most well-known definitions of sage is something along the lines of this one from Merriam-Webster:

a mature or venerable man of sound judgment

Which totally works for our little girl since when we don’t put the aforementioned headbands and hairbows on, she reminds us of a little old man.

But the meaning that Neal was actually quite taken with relates to the sage plant, which derives from the Latin root, Salvia, meaning to save or to heal.  Apparently, in medieval times, sage was thought to be such a miracle plant that it could cure practically anything.  Hence, the beautiful saying that won me over to the name Sage,

Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?

However, I felt that the first name Sage just did not work with such a short last name like Call.  From there, Neal chose Addison because it brought a certain synergy with Sage.  Although it is perhaps most famous as the name of a disease, Addison’s disease got its name from the 19th-century doctor, Thomas Addison, who identified and treated it.  A prominent healer.

Wisdom and healing.  That’s what our baby’s name is about.



  1. VERY NICE! I think Addison is very lucky to have such thought put into her name.

    Comment by Jolene — May 31, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  2. I love love love Sage. I love even more that you two put so much thought into the name

    Comment by Emily Tew — May 31, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

  3. Beautiful. So, so beautiful. I also believe in meaningful names (something I learned from my mom). Besides the fact that I always planned on having a sister named Katie (but got 6 brothers instead), Katherine Elena means “pure light,” which I love. And she even has a baby quilt with starts and moons all over it that her Grandma Blanchard made before she was born when she had breast cancer the second time (and thankfully lived through it again!).

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — May 31, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    • I can’t remember if I ever told you that Elena was initially my first choice for a name. But Neal didn’t love it. And also, if my mom had her way, MY name would be Katherine right now 🙂

      Comment by llcall — May 31, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

  4. I’m such a fan of how and why you named her what you did. I’m glad you guys took so seriously the naming of her, and I’m sure Heavnly Father had a hand in making sure she had a suitable name for the soul he knows well.
    Yay for looking like old men babies!

    Comment by Rachel C. — June 1, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  5. Impressive research. She will really love all the time and effort you put into her name. I just went with what felt right. Mae was named after Krista (Krista Mae) and the funny thing is that I choose the name before we found out she was a girl and I didn’t even want a girl til I choose the name Mae and then I only wanted a girl.

    Comment by Emily Larkin — June 1, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

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