This outfit was my mother’s. There are photographs of her rocking this very ensemble (minus the wild Oilily tights) when she was a 2-year old living in Germany. I know that my Momo, my great-grandmother, the woman who began the Weeks tradition, is somewhere smiling, knowing that this pretty blue dress is on yet another Weeks. You have no idea how much I wish that coat and hat came in my current size.
My friend and fellow Eph, Kate Stone Lombardi, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that is ruffling hundreds of feathers and proving why her book, Mama’s Boy Myth – out March 15th – is so absolutely critical.
With all of the concern—some even call it a “crisis”—about boys falling behind girls academically, getting lower grades, exhibiting more behavior problems and going to college in falling numbers, you would think that this research about the benefits of mother-son closeness would warrant some consideration. If staying close to mothers helps boys to perform better in school, act less aggressively and avoid behaviors that will derail their lives, why is it still so discouraged?
Proud of her. Hang tough against those trolls, Kate. And I’m itching to read and discuss in person. This coming from a mother of two daughters. Because discussions like this are crucial for all parents, not just mothers of sons.
Myself. Because today I get to call myself a paid writer. And that feels pretty awesome.
Please take a read, as well, and leave some comment love. It would make this whole thing even more awesome.
So for all you expecting mothers out there, the next time someone asks, “Are you getting an epidural?” think about responding, “I don’t know. I’m not in labor.” It’s as honest a response as you can give.
This weekend, Momar and Auntie Kimmy drove out for a visit. Momar came bearing gifts. As always. These gifts included dresses and clothing from not only my childhood, but hers. The sweater and booties pictured on Courtland were my uncle’s, my mom’s brother. Pretty crazy, huh? What’s even crazier is that when my uncle was Courtland’s age, my mom’s family was living in Indonesia. Which means that this little sweater made it back across the Pacific and into my Grammy and then mother’s attic to then be bestowed upon my second born over a half century later.
Courtland’s impressed. You should be, too.
I think that you can all see where my knitting obsession originates. This is the work of my Grammy, the woman who taught me to knit as a child. It’s genetic.
The knit cowboy booties are particularly nausea-inducing in their cuteness. Giddy up!
I’ve wanted to write a rant about this Super Bowl Best Buy ad ever since I first saw it over a fistful of pigs in a blanket and taco dip.
I never got around to doing some of the research I wanted to in order to write a post that said more than “Apparently only people with penises invent cool shit. Sad panda.”
Fortunately, Jezebel and Feministe picked up the slack. Feministe also called out the Teleflora ad, because well, duh, that shit was appalling. Logan Levkoff and I tweet ranted about it during the game.
But the Best Buy ad made my heart sink. And filled me with legitimate sadness. Particularly for my daughters. I would hope that they are growing up in a generation where their role models are more varied than just the white male standard- but a commercial like that makes me think otherwise.
As stated in the Jezebel article, there is a need for more female role models in tech, not just to inspire young girls but to encourage grown women to take risks in their careers.
I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for months. As in, before-Courtland-was-born months. So over a half a year.
It’s a topic I think about quite a bit given the various reactions I’ve fielded about my own children’s names. As with so much of maternity, something that is so personal is somehow open to public opinion and judgement.
And I totally fall into that trap. I’ve found myself scoffing and passing judgement on some of the baby names I’ve seen land in my Facebook stream or make their way into Sunny’s extracurricular activities.
How dare X spell her kid’s name that way!
My god, that name is so boring.
Seriously? That name? That spelling? What were they thinking?
I have shared in some variation of those statements and had some variation of those statements thrust upon me since become a mother.
Judgement is so much a part of maternity and parenthood, and something that James and I find ourselves falling victim to and also perpetuating on a regular basis. When we previewed preschools for Sunny, we experienced a particularly loaded and judgey period. We’re constantly reminding ourselves that just because we’re not doing it X’s way, or just because Y doesn’t make the same decision as us, there isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to parenthood and raising a family.
I’m really trying to get better about reserving judgement, because lord knows it hurts when I find myself facing it from others.
ANYWAY, rant about judgement done.
On to my babies’ names.
As demonstrated by a breakfast discussion with Sunny regarding our family’s names, it’s a rather complicated state of affairs.
So let’s start with our family name, Cart, shall we?
I never thought I’d take my spouse’s last name. After a college schedule full to the brim with Women and Gender Studies courses, I graduated assuming I would keep my last name, regardless of my marital status. Why should I give up my name when dude man isn’t expected to? Why would I perpetuate this patriarchal system of naming? “Not I!,” I thought, “I’m a liberated, independent woman!”
When it came time to be married and discuss the surname situation, James and I batted around a number of ideas. I could remain “Ulmer,” and James, “Cart.” But when we had children, what then? I much preferred the idea of a common family name, a name that tied each of us together as a unit. We could be the “Ulmer-Carts,” but hyphenated names are so cumbersome and then what would my potential daughters do when they were wed? Even more hyphens? The hyphens could circle the Earth three times generations from now! Egads! Then I proposed hybrid names. Ulmart? Yeeeeeah, no. Carter? Then James would be James Carter, as in Jimmy Carter. He gave me a big thumbs down. And he continually stressed the affinity he felt toward his family name.
I was lamenting the situation to my father and he commented, “The name that you are considering holding on to is a product of your father’s father’s father’s father and so on … what special affinity do you feel to that? Why not think about what it is about your name that you identify with?”
Such a smart man. Because when it comes down to it, I identify much more with my middle name “Weeks,” which is my mother’s mother’s mother’s surname and has been passed down as a middle name to the first born woman of each new generation for the past four generations. So I bagged the Ulmer. Kept the Weeks. And I now present myself as Ashley Weeks Cart. Boom! Problem solved.
On to the naming of our first born.
James and I knew that we were going to name our first child Addison long before we’d even started seriously talking about having children. It was a name I was drawn to because it was gender neutral, and I could use it for a male or female baby. I also liked it because it was a nod to my mother’s name, Allison, without being a direct reference. When I mentioned that I liked the name for a son or daughter, James immediately agreed. And we thought that such quick mutual agreement on a name was a good sign. Our first child was to be an Addison.
Except then Grey’s Anatomy became super popular and the name Addison took off for girls. And we had a family member tell us that we were giving our child the name of a disease.
I mean it’s not like we were going with Parkinson or Leukemia. But, again. Opinions. Everyone’s got ’em.
We held fast to our decision despite its popularity and the negative commentary of others. Had Sunny been a boy, he would still have been named Addison. The middle name, however, was dependent on the sex of the baby. Weeks for a girl, because, as I mentioned above, it’s been the middle name for every first born female for generations. And Whaley for a boy, because it’s James’ middle name, and his father’s, and his father’s father. And given the common initial with either choice, the baby would have my initials – AWC – which was a nice nod to me when the last name was always going to be a nod to James.
And so she became Addison Weeks Cart. With Sunny as a nickname because my mother’s nickname growing up was Sunny. She wasn’t an Allie, and I didn’t want my daughter being an Addie. And knowing that she was going to grow up with a generation of Addisons, at least the nickname would set her apart.
On to our second born!
We had two old family names in mind for Courtland. I asked my mother for a list of older family names, as again, since the baby was going to have James’ surname AND his middle name (we knew we were going to use Whaley for the second child since it hadn’t been used with the first), I wanted a name from my side of the family to connect this baby to those generations.
We ultimately liked Pennington and Courtland, because both of the names were gender neutral and could be used for a boy or girl. If we went with Pennington, we would have a son, Penn, or a daughter, Penny. I still love the name and could see using it if we ever expand our family further.
But we chose Courtland because of an experience I had at a Kinko’s in Washington, D.C. I kid you not. You see, I was down in The District on a business trip while five months pregnant. I ran to a local Kinko’s to make some copies for a presentation I was giving and when I approached the counter I told the guy at the register that I was there to pick up an order for “Cart.” He responded, “Courtland Cart?” I paused. Startled. I had never encountered a Courtland in real life, and I thought I might be hearing things since that very name had been on my mind. I said, “Excuse me?” and he repeated, “Courtland Cart?”
It felt like the Universe was telling me something. Courtland Whaley Cart she would be. We had great debates about spelling, as of course we could have gone with “Cortland,” after the Berkshire apple. And I have had more than one person ask me if we named her Courtland because we were trying to be like Gwyneth Paltrow. I would have had to name her “Banana” or “Cherry” if I was mimicking Gwyenth’s naming style, but regardless, these are indeed queries that I have fielded.
Oh my, and her nickname. Her nickname has by far received the most judgement and sideways glances of any of these choices.
We knew we didn’t want to go with Court, because Court Cart seemed too alliterative for even my tastes (and I’m definitely down with alliterations).
Corey and Callie were offered up by well meaning family members who shuddered when they heard we were using Kaki.
I’ve always adored the nickname Kaki. It’s preppy as hell, just like my upbringing. I know it’s traditionally a nickname for Catherine, but why not for Courtland? And, most importantly, Addison could pronounce it. And since Courtland was such a mouthful for her toddler vocabulary, we went with it. And all the baggage and judgement that goes with it.
Ultimately, all that matters is that James and I absolutely adore our daughters’ names. We realize that they may ultimately decide to refer to themselves differently than Sunny or Kaki as they grow up – in fact, these days Addison insists that her name is “Kiddo” – but for now, we are relishing our Sunny and Kaki and all the preppy, personal goodness that they embody.
And I’m working on the judgey thing, because I sure know how much it sucks to be on the receiving end. Name your kid “Blue Ivy” or “Sage Moonblood” or “Blanket” and I’ll smile and nod knowing that there is undoubtedly a very personal, good reason why these children have those names. And it’s ultimately none of my dang business because these names are not my own children’s names. It’s not like I have a kid who’s name is Apple Cart…. oh wait…