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Why We Chose the Name Matilda

Why We Chose the Name Matilda: New Baby Cards

Today is apparently Roald Dahl Day so it seems like the perfect time to explain why we chose the name Matilda.

Although it wasn't because of Roald Dahl.

"I love that book!" so many people cried, when we told them the name.

"I love that film!" even more people gasped, clutching clasped hands to their chests.

We now have two (very much treasured) copies of the book. Also a copy of Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett which is fantastic for tiny cat lovers.

But, no, it wasn't because of that Matilda. Although that would be a very good reason.

Why We Chose the Name Matilda: Birth Certificate

We spent a lot of time trying out different babies' names.

Girls' names were initially, unintentionally, my responsibility. "They're all so... girlie..." Steve sighed, unable to muster much enthusiasm for anything I suggested. This ruled out anything floral or jewelled or ending with an "E" sound.

Unfortunately, he had no suggestions of his own. No amount of scrutinising end credits seemed to help.

I'm not sure where I came up with the idea for Matilda - I suspect I'd seen Tilda Swinton mentioned somewhere and it had lodged in my brain. I briefly fought against it; it was the 100th most popular girls' name in Scotland last year and, whilst number 101 would have been fine (if we liked Annabelle or Eden or Maria, joint 101st), anything in the top 100 went against my lingering need to be different.

But I liked it. I really liked it.

Why We Chose the Name Matilda: Baby in Father's Hands

And then I googled the meaning: "strength in battle".

That won us both around.

Because we want our daughter to be capable, to be determined, to be able to defend herself when needed.

Girls still face a lot of crap in this world - there is still pressure to be skinny and pretty; there is still pressure to please "elders and betters" even when those "elders and betters" turn out to be exploitative; there are still boys who believe they're entitled to something from girls; there are still adults with dated views about how women should earn and behave and contribute. We want her to see all of this for the (nevertheless dangerous) nonsense that it is and to be able to shout "No!".

But we also want her to be able to shout "Yes!". We want her to have the strength to choose her own path, the bravery to take risks and the courage to have adventures - whether those adventures are round the world travels or setting up a stable, secure home of her own (or neither; or both).

We want her to know that nobody sets her limits but her.


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