Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

The importance of our name

"What's in a name?"I love the word “Mama.” I love hearing it from my beloved daughter, but I do love hearing it from other children calling to or addressing their mothers. I recognize there are many addresses for mothers: Mom, Momma, Mommy, and Mama, all with their individualized spellings of identity My mother was Mama to me. My father’s mother was Momie to him. In fact as she aged all her acquaintances called her “Momie Himes.” Her name was Eva, but I didn’t learn her name until I was an adult. To me she was “Grandmomie.”

I find I turn my head in stores when I hear “Mama” called out by any child. It warms my heart. My choice of mother identity is “Mama.” There was a time my daughter in her teens called me “Mom.” I felt I didn’t know who she was addressing. It didn’t feel right or connected. I had to accept this phase of her teenagerhood that tried out her own terminology and sense of feeling of attachment to me as she matured into her own thoughts and perspectives.

I signed all my notes to her as “Mama” and finally she found her attachment to me and my mother identity with her. I was besotted!

I think it is the same with our names. My name is spelled K R Y S T L E. When I see the name spelled differently I have no attachment. I am the person with my name spelling. My name was a gift from my mother, and I matured with my given name morphing from Krystie to Krys and finally to Krystle.

Krystle felt too formal when I was young, but as I matured Krystle was perfect for how I felt about my grown-up self. I now fully belong to my given name and enjoy its unique spelling.

I think names give us this advantage – to grow into ourselves and our new experiences and awareness. I think even if our names don’t change, we still mature into our names. One of my friends has a popular common name, but when she identifies herself, it come with a distinctive emphasis. She is uniquely her name and it stands out. Some people change their names to better represent how they feel about themselves as they age. I love that. It tells me so much about them.

I think this name specialization extends to what we name our pets.   Many members of my family had “Ys” in their names. I do, my father did, my daughter does, and now my cat does. I adopted a pre-owned cat from a friend who passed away. She was 5 years old and never was given a final name. She is all black with gorgeous green eyes. I named her Emeye. She carries on the tradition of “Ys” in my family’s names and her name was my gift to her.

Names can be powerful and contribute not only to our self-identity but to how we face our experiences, how we feel about the impressions we make, or how others respond to us. So what’s in a name? I think our names can speak volumes about our healthy self-identities. Find your own unique expression of your name. It will benefit your health and self-esteem.

Krystle Shapiro, MSHN, owns NewTritionally Yours! providing nutrition education classes. She can be reached at (208) 290-6760.

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