What's in a name? According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But then, a rose is different from, let's say, the name Emma. I know, I always talk about my daughter, but let's face it - kids are fun to talk about.
Not more than three weeks ago, the Social Security Administration released its annual list of most popular baby names, and to my surprise, Emma topped the list at No. 1.
Emma was the first name I looked at in a baby book, and it's the only one that stuck with me. Emma is elegant, feminine and the name of a classic novel by Jane Austen. Might I add, it's also the name of Ross and Rachel's child. Perhaps that is why it has soared to the top of the charts.
I should be happy, I should be proud and gloating to all of my friends right now! (Well, I sort of did the third one.)
My initial reaction? Great, now Emma will have 10 girl friends with the same name when she is in elementary school, middle school, high school - what have you. When I was in elementary school, I had three friends that were named Lindsey. Not all were spelled the same, however.
There was Lindsey B., Lindsey H. and Lynsey P. - all in my class. Three of the same name, yet very different personalities. I have this same image replaying over and over in my mind as to how Emma will introduce her grade school friends when she brings them home.
"Hi Mom! This is Emma R., Emma T., Emma P. and Emma M.," she'll say to me.
Oh, please let her have a friend named Emma M., so I can merely reply, "You mean like the candy?" Emma H., my daughter, will either be completely embarrassed or play it absolutely cool. Of course, school is a long way off, and when she does start, who knows if she will make any friends with girls who have the same name. This preposterous thought - along with many others - is, of course, all in my giant imagination.
I'm not sure if all parents do this - but I like to try to imagine what Emma will be like as a toddler, as a young child and even as a teenager. It's a fun and scary process, because for me I'm aging along right with her.
So just to clarify, I did not name my daughter after Jane Austen's novel, nor did I name her after the Friends child. I named her Emma because I thought the name itself was, well, old fashioned and unlike any other.
To my surprise, it is now the No. 1 female name in the United States. The last No. 1 female name in the United States was Emily, which reigned for a solid 12 years. Just as often as I wonder about the future, I often wonder how long the name Emma will reign as No. 1.
So what's in a name exactly? A meaning. And by the significance of Emma's rise to No. 1, it is true to say that "a rose by any other would smell as sweet," but all I smell is sweet victory.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.