What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?

Yes yes, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare (‘s tragedy) but really let’s talk about names.

Elle Charlotte.

My daughter’s name was originally going to be Emma. 6 years ago when we thought having a baby would be nice and Mrs M fell pregnant and planned for the arrival of Emily, we discussed how it would work…. Emma… and Emily. And decided they’d be friends and it could. So Emma Jane would be her name.

But time passed and Emily arrived safely and started to grow up a bit. And Emma, over time and pending her arrival became Olivia. Inspired by our favourite show of the time, Fringe (my ringtone was also inspired by it for a while) and there weren’t a lot of Olivias around.

Until there were.

It became fashionable and people we knew started naming their daughters Olivia, but I held onto the name because I liked it a lot, and I was reassured by friends that it’d be ok. When Olivia arrived she’d be my Olivia and it didn’t matter that it had now become a popular name.

Olivia Jane was her name.

And we waited.

But Olivia, Liv, became our IVF baby. She became the blood tests, the waiting, the tears and the emptiness. And still we waited. And so, when I fell pregnant by accident and surprise, our baby was no longer Olivia.

Jane was the constant, as you can guess. Named after two very important people. Samantha Jane, my late cousin who we tragically lost when she was 16, and my mom Rejane (pronounced Ra-jean, so only the Jane in the spelling really).

Elle. Or Al (in pronunciation if I’m honest). It started way before Emma.

In 2007, we got engaged and I also started working in an Asset Management firm – SSGA. I worked for guy, Arron, who little did I know at the time would not only share my birthday, but his wife would inspire my child’s name. As is the case within an open plan office, or maybe just a quiet office of finance ops nerds –  I overheard phone calls to his wife, Al. Short for Alison. Or Alice. But over the phone, he called her Al  (cue: Paul Simon hum).

I liked the name a lot. But I didn’t like Alice. Or Alison. And so Elle became. In 2007, before I was even married, my future girl child would be Elle.

Elle Jane.

Elle Jane.

L Jane

L J – isn’t that a rapper? (ok, ok… LL Cool J)

Elle Jane was just never going to work. But I needed it to.

And then my mom delivered her pearler: “I never liked the name Jane. Plain Jane.” (err.. mom, the name is your namesake). But nope, she was not a fan even with this tug on her heart.

And so with just a few days before the imminent arrival of a baby who we weren’t sure was a girl or a boy yet, we learnt an interesting fact. My mom’s mom, a grandmother I never knew, the real name she never went by, was Charlotte.

And so Elle Charlotte suddenly became our miracle baby daughter’s name. That by the time I went into labour, we were still convinced was a boy. By “we” – I mean Mark. I always knew (dating back to 2007 ofcourse) that my first born would be a girl.

And while I fend off the stupids who ask if Elle/Al, is short for Alistair or Allan, and I smile sweetly (eye roll them) while pointing out that she’s a girl and her name is Elle – like the magazine, or you know, the international supermodel, I know that this child is more unique than just her name. She chose to arrive when she did, against the odds, to a name that was planned well before her time but only came to us at the last moment.

Elle Charlotte Hawkins. My miracle baby girl.



Mom guilt

I had a moment today. The house was quiet (Mark was out for a run with our first child) and I sat with our first born, in a pod on our patio, gently swinging and looking out at our garden. I love our home. And I’m so excited that one day Elle (first born) will get to run around with Indie (first child – she’s a dog in case you missed that) in this house and garden.

But as I sat swinging, with my sleeping bebe I realised in two months time I’m going to be paying someone else to sit in this swing with her.

And so the mom guilt set in.

I was warned about mom guilt. From the moment you give birth (by c section, which isn’t a real birth as some say – even referred to as an easy option by those same ‘some’) the mom guilt sets in. Give up breast feeding? Mom guilt. Go back to work? There it is again. Work late? Girls dinners out? Weekend away without kids? Mom guilt written all over those things.

I don’t want to pay someone else to rock my child to sleep and soothe her when she cries. I have waited a long time for my baby, to see her smile, hold her hand, help her take her first step. And I want to be there for those things. But there’s a chance, a good chance, I’m going to miss some things.
Going back to work is a non-negotiable for me. There’s the whole… well, financial thing. Living in this house that I love means that FNB loves monthly payments. But there’s also the whole career thing. I’ve built a career over a the years with some hard work. I studied a degree, I started at the bottom, I read, researched and absorbed (absorb still) all I can from mentors and industry leaders. And when I couldn’t be a mom, I accepted my career as my thing. It, in part, is what I do. Who I am. What I’ve worked hard for for many years. It stimulates me, challenges me and captivates me. It’s not something I want to give up.

As I rocked my baby and imagined the person (that I haven’t hired yet) who will be sitting in my place in two months time I couldn’t help but cry. I don’t want to go back to work just to pay someone else to do this. But I’m not. I’m going back to work to pay for so much more. To give her this home, an education in a good school and also around the world as we travel with our baby girl to beautiful places and show her our favourite cities or discover new ones with her. I’m going back to work so that she can admire her mom for being an equal, contributing to the household, and to teach her that women can succeed in the workplace as much as men can.

Hopefully all that mom guilt is worth it in the long term.