Archie!

I was nursing Kate last Wednesday when my phone started dinging.

Had I heard the news? 

My cousin Emily was the first to alert me: Prince Harry and Meghan named their newborn son Archie! 

All day long I heard from friends, relatives and colleagues voicing their surprise, which I could only echo. I still can't believe the super-uncommon name we chose for our son is now shared by the royal baby.

I felt at once affirmed and threatened. Mostly I was smiling as the texts poured in and as fans of the royal family reacted to the name choice. They were surprised and, by and large, they were enchanted. (It's been amusing to read news stories speculating at the inspiration behind the unconventional moniker.)

It felt like the rest of the world was finally discovering the name we have loved for years and saved to use for a son since my first pregnancy beginning in 2012. It's playful, amiable and full of boyish charm. It suits our curly-haired, big-eyed boy perfectly.

At the same time, I couldn't help but worry that Archie would suddenly surge in popularity. I had visions of little Archies running around the playground and preschool. Ted and I have always loved that our son is the only Archie people know.

But I wasn't too concerned, I texted a few relatives that day: Archie may well become more widely used, but it didn't even crack the top 1,000. We weren't running the risk of it winding up on the top 10 list alongside defending champs Emma and Liam.

Two days later the Social Security Administration released its annual list of most-popular baby names, based on the names chosen for American babies born over the course of 2018. It contained two revelations about the royal family in the news. (Neither seemed to bode well.)

First, the girl name that surged the most dramatically from 2017 to 2018 was that of the bride who became royal in 2018: Meghan. With the same spelling as Meghan Markle, the name Meghan leapt 701 spots from 1,404 way up to 703. The royal influence on baby names is powerful.

Second, the name Archie had already been rising in popularity before Harry and Meghan's news-making choice. It jumped 178 spots over the past year from 1,170 to 992. Barely in the top 1,000...but still. 

Give it another year, and it'll likely make another big leap. 

But that's OK. 

I take pride in having baby names that are uncommon. But above all, I've learned, you have to choose a name you love -- and don't fret about the rest.

As I've written before, even if you think you've found a unique name, hyper-local forces -- including socio-economic and cultural factors -- swirl together and result in certain names suddenly cropping up en masse right at the same time you've chosen it. You can't predict or avoid it. 

But parents can take comfort in the fact that there are far more names in circulation today, so it's not as if your child will be surrounded by classmates with the same name. Parents are more creative with names today, drawing from a wider range of options. Only 310 babies born in Minnesota were named Olivia in 2017, the most popular name in our state. By comparison, the top girl name in Minnesota back in 1960, Mary, was chosen for a whopping 1,468 babies. Nearly 5 times more Minnesota girls shared the top name then as they do now.

Our son's full name is actually Archibald, though he's been called Archie since day one. Archibald doesn't crack the top 1,000 list and doesn't seem likely to, even in light of royal trendsetting. We like having a more formal version of the name -- something strong and stately -- to underline the playful nickname. It's similar to my husband being called Ted but officially Theodore (a name that is surging in popularity). It feels like their names are cut from the same cloth.

No matter where Archie ranks in the coming years, it will remain distinct -- and the perfect name for our little guy.

I bet it'll suit Harry and Meghan's son well too. I can imagine him being a spirited little fellow -- friendly with a touch of mischief, just as the name suggests. 

Ultimately, I feel more pleased than threatened by the fact that the royal baby shares our son's name. It creates a fun affinity with the royal couple; Ted and I have something in common with Harry and Meghan that not many parents do, a name that has enchanted us since the day our son was born -- six letters that, combined, create such a charming effect.

I hope their Archie brings as much joy to them as our Archie brings to us.  

 

 


Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and four children in Inver Grove Heights. Read all her posts at mnparent.com/charmed