My Mom says she named me Amy because it means ‘beloved.’

“I could’ve named you Laura,” she says. “Would you’ve liked that better? Laura?” Her arms rest slightly crossed, one hand holding the pipe in the air like a magic wand she might presto over my head at any moment. She‘s high enough to take the question seriously as if she’s still the 19-year-old girl long ago, holding names up to a theoretical baby.

I shake my head no, but secretly mull it over. “I’m no Laura,” I snort. There’s a Laura in my class, and she has a mole on her chin. The last thing I need is an association with a mole. “But I’m not really an Amy, either,” I amend. Amy is a cheerleader. A lively, popular girl who curls her hair and wears make up. An Amy makes straight A’s and is every teacher’s favorite.

I was a teacher’s favorite once. Mr. Sanger, the Geography teacher. I could tell he liked me well enough. At the end of the semester, he pulled me aside and peered into my eyes. “Amy, Amy, Amy. You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” He’s really impressed with me, I thought, leaving 9th grade flattered Mr. Sanger named me a being heroically burdened by the plight of humanity.

“No?” she tsks. “I think it’s beautiful.” She tilts her head and frowns, sighing at her construction of this beauty. This potent meaning she’s bestowed upon me.

I always wanted a name like Samantha or Alexandria. A feminine name easily cut down to strident, masculine syllables. Sam. Alex. A name separating me from all the Amy’s and Laura’s. Something tough and possibly androgynous. Sam handles shit. Alex kicks ass and makes edgy, volatile art.

I want all my soft parts safely contained beneath the bravado of dude names ending with consonants. My pretty lady name only said aloud in moments of anger or passion.

“Beloved,” my mom murmurs. Her voice is a soft sing-song medley of pot and nostalgia. “Because you are beloved. I wanted you when no one else did.”

I sit at her feet and choose to ignore the accusation lacing her words. I don’t want to interrupt her reverie. I may not like the name Amy, but when she tells my origin story this way, I almost believe it. Perhaps I am beloved and just don’t know it. She put thought into it, after all. Picked it out just for me.

So I ignore her jab. Instead, I picture my mother young and expectant, funneling a culmination of hopes and dreams onto a vision of a child she will surely love.  She isn’t yet bitter or disappointed by this child. Her guts aren’t churning with anger. She hasn’t yet lost control of her temper or slipped into depressions so deep no one can wake her. There is still a fertile future ahead, an abundant world full of beloved possibility.


21 thoughts on “Beloved”

  1. Beautiful piece, Amy! There were so many great lines in this. I especially loved the paragraph with “My pretty lady name only said aloud…” As someone with a longer name shortened to a male name, I totally embody that desire, and I gotta tell ya, it feels unnatural when someone calls me Melony. I’m Mel, first, and only Melony if I’m in trouble. hah

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  2. I loved reading it. I especially liked your thoughts on having names that can be shortened into ones that “hide” gender. It’s funny but that was my reason why I named my main character Alexis – so her friends could call her Al and Alex.
    I’ve never really liked my name either. I don’t know why really. Maybe ’cause it sounds plain? Or because nobody calls me Kris? Haha 😉

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  3. As always, Amy, your post gives me a ton of feels. Your mother, man o man, what a character. I have so rarely written about my mother because I don’t think I understand her. Not the way you seem to understand and portray yours in such a vivid way. I liked the pictures you paint of “Sam” and “Alex.” So true. So relatable. So clear.

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    1. Thank you Lisa. My mother would probably say I don’t understand her, but I perceive more than she gives me credit for. plus, I was basically trained to be at the whim of her every mood. Anyway. Write about not understanding your mom! I luh-luh-love your NF.

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  4. Amy, your words are always so evocative. I love that you show us the connection between you and your mother, the nuances and complexities of your relationship, and the differences in the way you view your name. I also love the delicacy with which you show your deep understanding of her, of her need to see your relationship the way she sees it, and your accommodation of that. That’s such a moment of love.

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  5. I really like the insight you show about your mother. It tells a lot about who you are too. The line “I ignored the jab” felt like all too many moments in my life. You gave me space to connect your story to my own relationship with my mother, and that gave it even more depth. Very nicely done.

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  6. I love this, Amy. You always write your mother so well – the delicate balance between love and dislike you have for her and that most daughters have for their mothers. I think Amy suits you, but maybe that’s because I know so many Amys who are bad ass. Hugs.

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