May 28, 2013 by Dragonfly Diva
A recent Daily Prompt challenge suggested to explore your own name, which got my writing juices flowing. My name – Megan – has some interesting background to it.
To begin with, although my name has an Irish history, I have about a pinkie finger full of Irish in my heritage. The selection of my name when I was born had little to do with passing down a family name or honoring previous generations.
Instead my name came from a child that my mother took care of when she was in high school. She liked the name so much that she, along with agreement from my Father, selected it for my name. Now, as I grew up I did wonder why they went with the plain Jane spelling for the name, when there were so many unique spellings of the name – Meggan, Meghan, Meighan, Meagan, etc. My father teased, saying they were not sure how smart I would be so they picked the easiest one available. To which my mother scolded him, saying that it was because that is how the family of the little girl she took care of spelled her name. So that answered that question.
Now it should be mentioned that back when I was born and growing up, not many people had the name Megan. In searching out fancy versions of my name, I came across this graphic from 1980…
where you can see that while during that decade the name Megan being given to new baby girls peaked. During my childhood, the time when just about every little girl was interested in having something with her name on it, personalized Megan items were few and far between.
But, to me my name is special, not because of the fact that it was a unique name for the time, but for the bigger story behind the name. My mother came from a large family – with five sisters and three brothers in the early 1950’s times were always tight. So while in high school she found out about and took a job taking care of a family’s children. She boarded with the family, rising early in the morning to get herself ready for school, then getting the four – yes, four – children up and ready for the day. And, these four children were two sets of twins. One set under two and a half and one set under a year old. Two breakfasts and two bottles later, she’d head off to school. In the evenings, she was responsible for helping get the children fed, bathed and off to bed. She helped with their laundry and some cleaning around the house too, in addition to doing her homework. She did all of that for a very small amount of money, some of which went to pay the bus fare to and from the family’s home, and some was shared with her family.
As I think about the high school years my family gave me, where I didn’t have to work, my biggest responsibility was my school work, and I took part in school choir, dance lessons and sleep overs with friends, the work and sacrifice of my mother’s situation is humbling to me. I did work during high school, babysitting after school and during the summers, but I cannot imagine having left my family to live somewhere else full-time. Or having balanced helping with four small children with getting assignments and studying done.
As I think about my mother’s choices and dedication – she was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and went on to become a secretary to several managers at a large national company – I know where I got both my love of children and my work ethic and drive. While my name itself is only a small part of the story, the meaning it has given to my life is much, much larger.