Today, the letter is J, and I am going to write about Jennifer.
Actually, I had just about settled on “Junk Drawer” for a topic, until it dawned on me that my oldest daughter’s name begins with J. This would be a perfect opportunity to write about her!
First, our drive to the hospital the night Jennifer was born. Her father started out driving very fast, until I asked him not to speed. Without an argument, he slowed down to precisely the speed limit and, maintaining that pace, drove through every single red light along the way. Our first child was born in the wintertime, just after midnight, early on a Sunday morning,
If she had been a boy, the name we had selected was Daniel Adrian. For our daughter, Jennifer Marietta. My husband and I had seen a movie titled “Jenny,” starring Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda, about young lovers and the war in Vietnam. That influenced our name choice. Jennifer was not an unusual name, but not overly common, either. I only knew two other girls with that name. It could be shortened to Jenny when she was small, but if our daughter grew up to be a doctor or lawyer, or president, for heaven’s sake, Jennifer would be a dignified moniker. Marietta was for Sister Marietta, the beautiful and kind Dominican nun who taught me in the fourth grade.
I held her, first, in the middle of the night, introduced myself, and counted her fingers and toes. There were many days and nights after that, that I held her, and watched her, and thought how blessed I was to be her mother. Then, there were a million cute things she did as a child, and special moments we shared, and ways she made me laugh, or cry, or feel proud. There are stories – some of my best anecdotes, in fact – that I am forbidden to tell. There are others that are simply too precious to share.
I believe the name you give a child plays a part in the person they become. In Jennifer, I see both Marlo Thomas and Sister Marietta reflected in Jennifer’s beauty, wit, kindness, and sense of humor. Jennifer became a much more common name, though, than I had anticipated. Along with the marginally popular movie, “Jenny,” “Love Story” came out in the months before my first child was born. It was a wildly popular, Oscar-nominated film starring Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw. McGraw’s character was named Jenny, and that name quickly became the most girl’s name in America! When my second daughter was little, she could not pronounce the “J” sound, so her sister’s name came out, “Nenny,” or “Nen,” as by that time we had gone to often just calling her Jen. Jen is what she still goes by now.
As with all children, and children-grown-into-adults, Jen has been the cause of many worries and concerns, and we’ve had our differences over the years. Mostly, though, being her mother has been a pleasure. The telephone rang just as I was getting out of bed the other day. Jennifer’s voice, when I picked up, instantly put a good spin on my morning. For all of the mixed blessings of motherhood, Jennifer mostly brings me joy!