Baby names, opinions, and old wounds
This is a repost blog.
Original posts by Letter Writer #728 at Captain Awkward. Only the original questions/updates are reproduced here - to read Captain Awkward’s advice, click through to the original links.
28 Jul 2015:#728: Baby names, opinions, and old wounds
Dear Captain Awkward,
I don’t want to get too into backstory here, but my mother was a Darth Vader parent. The abuse was never physical, but emotional/verbal abuse and gaslighting were common. Darth Mom died last year. My sister and brother-in-law—let’s call them Leia and Han—are now expecting a baby girl. I don’t think anyone has said anything to *them* yet, but multiple people have told *me* that they’re disappointed that the baby won’t be named after Darth Mom or that they’re “so very sad” that the baby will never get the chance to meet her “wonderful grandmother.” And I just. No. A world of no. All of the NO.
Han is taking most of the blame for the name thing because he was named after a deceased family member and he wants the baby to have a name of her own. So that’s a script I’ve been using when people bring up the idea of naming the baby for Darth Mom. But I have no idea what to do when people tell me how sad it is that the baby will never meet Darth Mom. I understand that they mean well and they don’t know that Darth Mom was secretly a Sith Lord, but I am so relieved that the baby will never have to meet her grandmother that I kind of want to throttle these people. I have no idea what to say here and I’m afraid I’m going to snap and start airing dirty laundry, and nobody wants that.
Any kind of script or even a mantra for this situation would be much appreciated.
7 Jan 2017: UPDATE
Hello, all. I was LW #728. TL; DR: People were bugging me about what my sister and her husband were planning to name the baby (not after the late and not-so-great Darth Mom) and constantly bringing up how sad it was Darth Mom would not get to see the baby.
I got a lot of mileage out of “[Vague agreement] + [subject change],” “Everyone says that! + [subject change]” and “Things sure will be different [mentally: and awesome/quieter/less stressful] without Darth Mom around,” with a side-order of telling the nosiest, most gossipy old church ladies I could find, “I know *you* would never, but I’m worried someone will bring it up with Leia. Her doctor says she should avoid stress as much as possible and she always gets so choked up when Darth Mom is brought up that I’m a little worried. This is her first pregnancy, after all.” And then, as if by magic (and the power of gossipy old women), people around town–everyone knew Darth Mom, but no one *knew* Darth Mom, y’know?–continued to make sad noises *at me* about her passing on before meeting the baby, but no one *ever* said anything about it to Leia or Han at all. (I am justifiably proud of myself for that. Go, me!)
So I continued to make vaguely “meh” noises and change the subject a lot, until there was an actual baby on hand to distract people with. (People can be easily convinced to change the subject if you can go, “Look! A baby!” and thrust a live baby at them. It’s great.)
Baby Rey is healthy and adorable and just over a year old. No one can imagine her being named anything but what she’s been named. I think I mentioned at Thanksgiving or maybe one of the Holiday threads, she’s learned both to give actual high-fives and Jedi high-fives from across the room. This is never not adorable. No one really brings my mother up in conversation anymore; I’m not sure if that’s a natural progression of the community grieving process or if my responses were just so boring they figure there’s no point. Either way, I win. 🙂
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