Helen in the middle

What is the purpose of a middle name? Do you give it to kids just in case they don’t like their first names? is it because you and the dad (husband, boyfriend, one-night stand, or sperm donor) couldn’t agree what to call her so you flipped a coin and the loser got the middle name? So many possibilities…

Miriam Helen ready to launch a plane in place of a ship

Of course I had to Google the meaning of the middle name and came up with this from Wikipedia

Despite their relatively long existence in North America, the phrase “middle name” was not recorded until 1835 in the periodical Harvardiana. Since 1905, “middle name” gained a figurative connotation meaning a notable or outstanding attribute of a person, as in the phrase “________ is my middle name.”

drum roll please…

My parents must have been dreaming of little old ladies when they named me. Bad enough I grew up with a largely unpronounceable first name, but they had to give me Helen in the middle. Sounds so darn serious to be Miriam Helen. Almost borders on pretentious.

Am I over sensitive? As a child, I dreamed of having a name worthy of a TV character (a la Cindy Brady). I wanted to be Clair or Bubbles or something dreamy, not sensible and forthright and all that stuff. Cotton candy, unicorns and Barbies (another name I liked) filled my head. Yes, I was a girly girl.

Helen of Troy

Such classic unmatched gorgeousness. Don’t I wish I could launch 1000 ships from my beauty alone? Nah. Too much responsibility. How could anyone possibly live up to that reputation. Better to have a super girly cutesy name instead (kidding).

Urban Dictionary defined Helen as “the helen (abbreviated hn) is the imperial unit of measurement for female beauty, now superseded by the metric bella.” Helen can mean light or torch (thinkbabynames.com). I also saw Helen referred somewhere as a sunray. Is that a reference to attractiveness again or pale complexion? Maybe it is a sunshiny disposition which I definitely possess.

you know you’re in trouble when…

It is a given that I was in trouble when my mom would refer to me as Miriam Helen rather than Mim. There is something commanding about being approached with a full name rather than a nickname. I would shudder and hide when mom would yell that down the hall. Uh Oh. What did I do now?

Going full circle I now use the same veiled threat when calling Samuel Joseph or Avery Michelle. “Samuel Joseph, did you put away the dishes yet?” sounds way more threatening.  Funny thing, I just realized both my kids got their middle names from the reasons I listed above. I will let you figure out which reason belongs to which child.

What is your middle name or do you have one at all? Do you have more than one? Is it a no nonsense name like Helen or more dreamy or silly like Bubbles? Share your thoughts on why you love/hate/put up with it.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s weekly blogging workshop prompt: your middle name. Go check out her site if you haven’t already.

4 thoughts on “Helen in the middle

  1. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

    I, my mom, and my daughter all have the same middle name. I picked my daughter’s for that reason – I thought that was a great connection. Never asked Mom why she gave me the same as hers. Kinda want to know why my Grandmother picked it for Mom, now.


    1. miriamgomberg says:

      Lisa, looks like a good topic for a blog post; the name connection. I know my first name is after my aunt who passed away early from leukemia. Helen, I have no idea who she was. Thanks for stopping by 😀


  2. Stacey @ Life So Lovely says:

    My middle name came from part of my mom’s name, and then I gave it to my daughter as well. Other than that, I’m of the opinion that the middle name exists only to let a kid know when Mama’s really mad!

    Visiting from Mama Kat’s 🙂


    1. miriamgomberg says:

      Stacey, now I am curious what your middle name is? When I named my daughter Avery, I gave her Michelle as a middle name so it would look more feminine (Avery is a man’s name). However, the only time it is used is when I am angry or frustrated. Thanks for stopping by. M


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