Choosing a name can be one of the most challenging decisions for expectant parents. Is the moniker original enough? Maybe it's too unique? Is it meaningful? Will the teacher butcher its pronunciation? So many questions come up in the process that one can feel paralyzed by indecision. And one of the worst fears for parents-to-be is that they (or their child) later regret the name they've chosen.
Unfortunately, one mom has found herself in that dreadful space now that her daughter is 4 years old, and her temptation to change her child's name has stirred up controversy all across the internet. The anonymous mom first vented about her daughter's name, Esmée, on Mumsnet under the username Chesternut.
"I gave her a name which, I thought, was very original as I hadn't heard another girl called it in about 20 years," the mom wrote. "Only to find when she started nursery another girl called the same but (spelled) differently."
Esmée will be starting school in September, and there will be two other girls with the same name in her class.
"Totally hacked off and really upset by this," she continued. "Am I being unreasonable to change my (dear daughter's) name before September? I love her name but HATE it's so common now."
The mom's dilemma stems from her personal experience as a child. When she was in school, five other people in her class had the same name, and the mom hated it so much she vowed to never let her children live through the same experience.
Am I being unreasonable to change my (dear daughter's) name before September?
"I can remember my whole junior/secondary school time being colored by the fact that so many of us had the same name. I changed it as soon as I could because of that reason. Every time I hear my real name, I shudder," she wrote.
According to the Social Security Administration, Esmée isn't in the top 1,000 names for any year of birth since 2000 in the U.S. The other variant though, Esme (with or without the accent), has shot up in popularity among females from a ranking of 923 in 2010 to 585 in 2017. Nameberry notes, though, that both variants of the name, rooted in the French name meaning esteemed or beloved, are quite popular in the U.K. and the Netherlands.
Celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Katey Sagal have named their children Esme. But what ticks off Chesternut is another celebrity, albeit fictional: Esme is also the name of the vampire matriarch, Esme Cullen, in "Twilight."
The mom had no idea about the series, but now the first thing anyone asks when they hear her daughter's name is if her name was inspired by the film.
"The answer is no it bloody isn't!!!" she writes (in case anyone's wondering).
The mom also says her daughter does have a middle name, named after Esmée's grandmother, but it's equally as popular, so using her middle name instead isn't a better option.
The consensus among her anonymous confidants? Don't change it.
While some were more ruthless in their responses, calling the decision "completely insane" and saying a name change would cause psychological damage, many thought that the name is now her daughter's, and any decision to change it should be up to her daughter as she gets older. Children typically already respond to their names at age 1 and have a strong sense of self at age 4. Plus, trends come and go, and who's to say that she won't run into the same problem with a new name several years down the road?
If the mom does decide to change her daughter's name, though, we highly recommend avoiding Emma, Olivia and Ava.