Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop: What's in a Name...

This is my first time joining the all the wonderful who participate in Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop - I hope to make this a regular habit! Wish me luck!


Mama's Losin' It

This week, I picked the following prompt: What's in YOUR name? What does it mean? Why was it given to you?

Funny you should ask. My name is Elizabeth. That's my given name. It's the name my mother, for one reason or another, decided to give me upon my exciting birth. If I remember correctly, if I was a boy, I was going to be an Andrew.

But I wound up being an Elizabeth. A name destined to be shortened. How many Elizabeths do you know that actually go by the full name? How many toddlers can manage to spit that name out?

My sister, who's ten years older than me, decided on the day I was brought home from the hospital that I ought to be called Beth. The way the story is told, she called me Beth for the first month or so of my life. My mother didn't like the name Beth. Somehow, my mother came up with the nickname Betsy. They loved the name. Thought it was the cutest thing ever. I remember despising the name...pretty much all of my life.


Do I look like a Betsy? I don't think so..

In first grade, I told Miss Mayer, my teacher, that I didn't like the name Betsy. Didn't like it one bit. She suggested that I try the name Liz. It stuck. At least outside of my household, it stuck. My family never liked the name, and to this very day, they still call me Betsy. A name that makes me feel like one of two undesirable things: a cow or a six-year-old. Problem with Liz is that people tended to make up mean nicknames around the name - Lizard, Thin Lizzy (which was the total opposite of what I was), and so forth. I didn't really love that name either. Then again, whenever some of the mean kids in school learned that I'd once been called Betsy, the teasing grew to a feverish pitch, calling me Betsy the Cow (apparently there was a famous Betsy the Cow at some point) and Betsy-Wetsy, amongst other things.

It wasn't until college and then when I began my professional career that I returned to using the name my mother first gave me - Elizabeth. I like the name, for the most part. It sounds classy. It makes me think of Elizabeth Taylor, so in a way, it's a little glamorous feeling to me. Liz just doesn't quite feel like me, though I can't quite explain it. My husband and many of my longterm friends still call me Liz, and that's okay, I suppose - it's better than Betsy, that's for damn sure. I imagine I will spend the rest of my life going by all three of the names I've possessed throughout my twenty-nine years.

Funny story about the whole Betsy thing - I did a breast cancer walk with some friends of mine last year, and my husband came with us. He managed to chat up one of my friends, and told her, for whatever reason, that my family calls me Betsy. This wasn't really public knowledge with some of my friends, prior to that. It wasn't that I didn't want them to know, it was more that it just hadn't come up. One thing led to another, and she teased him about his having told a secret of mine. That drove me crazy, and I demanded he tell me what "secret" he told her. After much physical violence and silly threats from me, he confessed, and it became a big, silly thing to laugh about. I guess, in a way, I've come to terms with the name, but I still cringe a little when I hear my mother say it. I probably always will.

Needless to say, when my son was born, I agonized about naming him. I had spreadsheets full of names and the initials those names would lead to, along with possible nicknames. I didn't want him to teased for some silly nickname of his name, so he has a name that's pretty difficult to create a nickname for.

Want to join Mama Kat's writing workshop? Visit her blog, Mama Kat's Losin It, on Tuesdays to find several prompts to choose from. Pick the one that moves you, and post your prompt on Thursdays.

16 comments:

Amanda said...

hehehe I liked how you mentioned Betsy being a name for a cow. My boyfriend and I have a basset hound named Bessie, but her name was going to be Betsy - her markings look like a cow. And you're right I don't know any Elizabeth that goes by their full name, I know a few that go by Liz, some by Beth and one that goes by Tizzy (dunno where that came from). Cute post :)

Eleanor said...

Growing up with the name Eleanor was no treat either!
And my mother gave us all family last names as our middle names...soooo...imagine going to school and telling people your name is Eleanor Higgins....
No fun either.
My dad,grandfather,and a few other family members still call me Ellie as I was known as a child, but as an adult, it is strictly Eleanor.
At home it is Mom and Hon. When they are all mad at me, god knows what they call me! ;)

Kyrsten said...

Thank you for your comment!
Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop is always fun :-)

Christy AKA Trippin' Mama said...

Last place I worked had 6 Elizabeths in an office of about 15 people. Some had never had nicknames, but they actually sat down and decided who would be called what. Crazy, huh?

Lolli said...

Interesting story! It reminded me of bringing home my youngest son. My older son INSISTED that his name was Michael, and introduced him that way, called him that, etc, for months. It was almost disturbing....His name is nothing similar to Michael! He grew out of it, though. :)

JadeLD said...

Great story, Betsey is kind of cute but rather you than me!

Kekibird said...

Yeah that'd be a hard name to live with. But I love Liz. Oddly, I have a cousin would is 19 who has always been Elizabeth. We've never called her anything else....odd!

Happy Thursday! Thanks for stopping by!

Los said...

I used to hate my middle name - Reiner. I couldn't stand it because it was so ... um ... different. Now, I love it for the very same reason.

Erin said...

I like the name Elizabeth, very classy and elegant. And I'm not kidding, I think I had that same highchair, and both my boys used it, with my youngest still in it!

I hated my 1st name and always went by my middle name, and I am like you....my family calls me by my 1st name and I cringe every time I hear it!

Alicia said...

i love the name elizabeth! it's so sophisticated!! i've always disliked my name...boo....but i love the fact you made a spreadsheet when you were naming your son!! lol!! that's hilarious!

Holly said...

I have always Elizabeth was a great name. Betsy...I never thought of a cow before - I actually thought the name was cute...but now I will think about cows.

Thanks for stopping by my place earlier. I was going to follow you...but go figure - I already was - man I cannot get a gripper on my dashboard and reader.
Holly @ 504 Main

Valerie said...

I like the name Elizabeth. I think it's classy too. I'm sorry about all the nicknames! I got teased as a kid too, but it's because I had an accent.

I know it must be hard naming kids. Kids are so mean now, that you surely don't want your little one teased.

I liked your post :) Elizabeth is a great name.

Baby Mama said...

I love the names Elizabeth, Beth and Liz! :) My name is Elyse (elease) and i used to get teased a lot with ELSIE THE COW! so i feel ya!

Mama the Chef said...

I like Elizabeth, makes me think of Pride & Prejudice. Not fun having to remember which name you're going to go by any particular day!

Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Amber Page Writes said...

I agonized over my daughter's name, and decided what I wanted her short name to be before she was born.

I like Elizabeth. It's very classy.

Saundra@ItalianMamaGoneCrazy said...

Hi!
My name is Sandra, SAundra, Sandee, SAndi, Alessandra, and Mom.

I seem to change my name every ten years or so...

I love the name Elizabeth...If I ever had a girl, I was going to name her Sofia Elizabeth...

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