The first name I can remember wanting to bestow on my future daughter was Lemonade. This was probably around age four or five, maybe at the height of my driveway entrepreneurship.
The next name that came into favor was Scheherazade, in elementary school. Scheherazade was the name of my favorite horse at my aunt’s farm. She was a beautiful dapple gray, and I was in love with her, so obviously it made sense for my future child to share her name.
Later, I fixated on the name Ava. My aunt was pregnant, and if it was a girl, they were going to call her Ava, and I fell in love with that name alongside them. They ended up having a boy, and Ava ended up becoming massively popular, so it eventually lost its luster for me.
The next and final name I fell in love with was June, sometime in high school. And, well, here we are. There’s no grand story of why I love this name so much, or why it’s stuck with me for so long, but there are many smaller reasons:
I love that it’s sweet and feminine without being saccharine.
I love that it’s simple, everyone knows how to spell it, and everyone is familiar with it, but it’s not that common.
I love that it’s a little old-school without sounding too hipster-ish.
I love that it works for a little girl as well as a grown-up lady.
As an adopted Southerner, I love that it has a light Dixie flair, thanks to June Carter Cash — and that I now have my very own Johnny and June :)
I love that John, who loves summer more than anyone I’ve ever met, will always have a little piece of sunshine in his life.
And finally, I love that I’ve only known one other June, and that I’d be proud if our daughter were to share some of her characteristics. She was a fairly distant relative (the grandmother of my fourth cousins), but one I grew up seeing every summer. That June was strong, courageous, gracious, smart, a loving wife and mother, a woman of faith, a talented piano player, a beautiful singer, and a true Southerner. We didn’t name our June after her, but I’d be proud for our girl to take after her.
Which brings us to her middle name, which actually was chosen because of a relative – John’s mom. My sisters and I all have family surnames as our middle names, and though I hated this when I was younger, I now, of course, love the tradition and want to continue it. My mother-in-law’s maiden name is Chen. She was born in China, then, under pressure from the communist party, escaped to Taiwan with her family. She immigrated to America in her 20’s and went on to earn her Ph.D. Aside from honoring Mama Jean, a fantastic lady, John and I love that our June’s middle name will speak to the larger story of the hope, possibility, freedom, and opportunity that’s always been found in America. We want her to know the power of that story, the power of resilience and hard work, and that she has the ability to make her life all she wants it to be.
So far, it seems to fit :)