The common

You know how I never give out my last name on this blog?  That’s because it’s very unusual and I don’t want my readers who are kidnappers to come and steal my children.  But I have no qualms about telling you my maiden name.  No siree.

Jennie Davis (not Jennifer).

If you google that name you come up with over 13,400 results.  And from what I can tell, none of them are me.

There is a girl in my current ward who is named Jennie Davis and it’s very trippy.  When I first met her I exclaimed, “hey, that’s my exact maiden name!”  She shook my hand and replied blandly, “you’re about the 300th one I’ve met.” Aaah, the perils of being Jennie Davis.

In my high school class there were 90 girls.  Two of us were named Jennie Davis.  So I had to go by my first name and middle initial. 

There is a park in Redlands, California named “Jennie Davis Park”.

Do you think I find any of this cool? I do not.  I always hated having a common name.  Hated it.  I longed to be like my little sister, Arianne.  She could call people and simply say, “hi, this is Arianne” and they instantly knew who she was.  I on the other hand, had to say, “hi, this is Jennie.  Jennie Davis.  The one in your English class.”

My mother claims to not have known that the early 70’s were overrun with Jennies/Jennys and Jennifers.  I guess I believe her, but I still have to shake my head.  How could she not know?  They were everywhere!

I considered changing my name for a while.  My mother told me I’d have to come up with the money on my own.  $50 is a lot of money for a 4th grader.  Especially with all those toys beckoning (I’ve always been entirely unable to save money.  Ask my sister who was always loaning some to me.  Or my husband.  He’ll tell you all about my lack-of-saving skills.)  I thought about changing my name in high school as well, but I figured changing it that “late in life” would make it confusing for everyone I knew. I completely wish I had, but I think it’s much too late for that now.  Having kids make things like that complicated. 

(Don’t even ask what name I was going to change it to because that name is now the password for half of the sites I visit on the internet. Sorry.)

Once I started having children I wanted to make sure they didn’t suffer a similar “generic name” fate.  Even though we have an unusual last name I wanted to make extra sure they were the only kids with their names in their class, if not their entire school. So far I’ve done pretty well.

Jennie Davis is technically not my name any more. I dropped “Davis” when I got married and kept my middle name which is super weird unusual and actually means something to me. 

So the moral of this story is this: if you have a common last name be aware–please, please be aware–that you are going to have to go out on a limb to find your child an interesting name. Otherwise, your child will be writing blog posts in a dozen or two years about the trials of being named Emily Johnson.

P.S. Mom, do not comment about my last name, my middle name or your maiden name! Let’s make it at least a little difficult for people to find me, O.K?

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18 thoughts on “The common

  1. I gave my sons family names, John and Stephen. Pretty common, excpet that there is only one other John and no other Stephens at school. I got lucky. There is an Ada in John’s class, who he has had a crush on for three years.

  2. Luckily, I don’t have this problem with a last name like Jones!! Totally unique!

  3. I only ever had the opposite of name experiences of you. In fact in the third grade I begged my mom to change my name to something more common, and normal. She wouldn’t.

    In high school I was friends with quite a few jenny’s, so many actually that we had to call them all different things. Jen, Jenny, Jennifer, and one just by her last name. I also had a friend named Emily Johnson, that is funny.

  4. I can tell which period of my mother’s life a person knows her from by what they call her. “Bernell” (pronouned “Burn-eel), is from Iowa, “Babs” the California phase, or “Lorraine” for a brief stint as a single woman in Utah. (As if that’s not enough, she has had FOUR last names in her lifetime as well) She too, always hated her name, but had no qualms about changing it as it suited her. I’m glad I only have to call her mom. FYI, I will not be naming any children after her. I don’t have that many children left in me…nothing personal mom.
    Also Jennie, you have MORE than made up for a common name by having a most UNCOMMON personality. And that’s a good thing. Perhaps if you’d had a name that did all the work for you, you wouldn’t be who you are today. (Did I just sound like your mother?)

  5. See, you really have no clue. “Arianne”??? Are you kidding me? No, that won’t do either. I get the “your name is WHAT?” “How do you spell that?” “Wait, what’s your name again?” comments 20 times a day. The real best case scenerio is an easy to say, easy to spell, easy to remember name that also isn’t common. But then, you know that. Your kids names (and mine) all fit that bill!

  6. At least your mom didn’t give you a first name you never use 🙂 The first day of school was so annoying, having to explain to every teacher, several times, why I didn’t go by the name they had me registered as. Even now it’s a pain. I asked my parents if they would be offended if I legally switched my first and middle names and they weren’t so I need to do that. On a completely different note, I love all your kids names!

  7. Nicki, I have a daughter named Rose Margaret and I really wanted to name her Margaret Rose (I thought the names sounded prettier in that order) but I also wanted to call her Rose, so to spare her first-day-of-class grief, I put the name we were going to call her first. Glad to hear that I made the right choice.

  8. My parents gave me a traditional name but NO middle name. This was the bane of my existence as a child, so I picked a middle name and started writing it on my papers all of first grade. My parents didn’t take me seriously, I guess, until it had been a substantial amount of time. Then they told me that I could pick a middle name if I wanted to (!). I felt big pressure then, as a 7 year old, to choose a really good name. I sifted through a few choices, but went back to the original one I’d chosen. So for my eighth birthday, my dad (whose profession made it easy to do this) made it legal. My eighth birthday was significant not only for my baptism, but also for that addition to my name. I’ve been SOOOOOOOO glad as an adult that I picked a name that I still like! I think my parents were pretty brave to take such a risk!

  9. Dearest Jennie,


    But really, you were at the very forefront of the Jennie craze. I didn’t know one single Jennie (in any form) before I named you.

    Comment for Arianne: Yeah, right! How many ways can you spell Dafknee? or Beque?

    Comment for Liz: How can you do this to us — tell us all about the excitement of choosing an official new middle name, and NOT SAYING WHAT IT IS?! Torturer! Come clean!


  10. My name was spelled with an “i” not a “y”, my sisters name is a Czech word – she is always repeating and spelling it – her whole life! So she named her kids “regular names” and her dogs “interesting names”. Often the kids want the dogs’ names – she always says they have no idea!

  11. Hi. My name is Jenny. My daughter’s name is Emily. I have a son named Adam and we live in the suburbs.

  12. My name is so different—-for a woman—that most people think that I have said something else, so I have to say my name about five times.

    And then spell it.

  13. Try being a Conni with no ‘e.’ Have you ever met a Connie that was under the age of 65 or that wasn’t old, mean or scary? I always wanted to change my name to something classic, like Caroline, Kathrine or Jacqueline. I always wanted to sound more sophisticated, not cranky. Now I’m cranky and ethnic, and my name is never spelled right. But as you can tell, I’m at peace with it. 🙂

  14. I like your name. I am pretty sure I can recall your middle name. I’m not exactly likeing that one though. Sorry, Ms. L.

  15. I love to read your blog never in my life did I ever hope to meet someone who hated their name as much as I hate mine! Voronda, has to be the worst name in the world always spelled wrong always called Veronica. That is why I took so much care with my own kids names. Love your Blog!

  16. it sucked having an uncommon first and last name growing up.

    I was glad to marry a more common last name 🙂

  17. I always like having a unique name. It is easy to spell and most people tell me they like it.

    Now, I am trying to name baby number five (who comes tomorrow, ready or not) and my husband isn't sure about the name I like: Paisley. It is unusual, but widely known (and apparently more popular in Utah in the last couple years–see I thought no one had it as a name when I decided I like it).

    I realized yesterday that my husband is afraid of an unusual name because his name is Dave…but I was still surprised since he married me. We have both unusual and usual names for the other four kids: Silas, Noah, Eden and Chloe. So, I guess when I meet this new baby, I will know if she is Paisley or something more "trendy" like Ella.

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