How Did You Get Your Name?

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.

The idea is that our children only know us “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Mama” but don’t know who we were before we had that name. Each week, Carla will provide a prompt which will result in a collection of stories from me to my children, giving them a glimpse into me, before I was their Mom.

Our first prompt: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

leah name, cut out letters, ransom note style words, collages, magazine letters cut out, meaning of Leah, Hebrew Leah, crafty name,

I don’t think my parents had a reason for naming me Leah, except that they liked it and the second runner up, Jennifer, had just been used by my Mom’s friend. My middle name is Jane, after my mother, which is special to me now, though I’m not sure I appreciated that when I was younger.

Growing up I looked my name up in a baby name book for it’s meaning: the weary one. Seriously?! For someone who loves the meaning behind things, this was a bummer, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I tend to have a lot of energy. A-Lot-Of-Energy! (Over years of my overachieving ways, though, I have over-committed myself at times and have felt weary.)

I’m not sure I prefer the more modern meaning: delicate. I’m pretty bold, self confident and consider myself a strong, passionate woman. However, when I really consider the meaning, I think my heart is empathetic, open and honest, and so it can feel sensitive and fragile. I hate feeling misunderstood – I’d never make it in politics!

As a kid, I was the only Leah. There was another girl about six years younger than me, who spelled her name Lea, but until college, she was the only other person I’d ever met who had my name.

Generally, I liked being individual and having an uncommon name, but I craved something personalized. Other girls had signs on their bedroom doors announcing “Carrie’s Room” or had stickers, hair clips or jewelry labeled with their names. Nothing ever had Leah on it. Nothing.

In fifth grade, I decided I liked the Italian spelling, Lia, better. I reasoned that we had Italian heritage so it made more sense than the Hebrew spelling from the Old Testament. Without warning or explanation, I began to write “Lia” on my school papers. After only a week of being Lia, I was looking for an empty box in my Mom’s gift wrap closet. I opened a small white box and found a necklace with “Leah” dangling from the chain. I replaced the lid and started writing “Leah” on my school work again, excited that I would finally have something with my name on it! I only told my Mom about that discovery many years later.name tag, hello my name is tag, hello my name is, Leah, Meanings of Leah, blue name tag, writing your name, wearing a name tag

As a young adult, I worked in PR and special events at a major New York City retailer. We had a woman personalizing furniture, she was beautifully painting “Leah” on a stool when I walked by, I stopped short and marveled. The artist commented, “I like to use the more popular names,” and it startled me to realize my name had become more common.

Perhaps the name is given a little more often now, but I am still the only Leah in my life circles. After being the only Leah for so many years, I always spin around to respond anytime I hear a Mom call out “Leah!”

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27 Responses to How Did You Get Your Name?

  1. The necklace in the closet! Love this story.

  2. Jessica says:

    Your mom must have loved the necklace story :) Great post!!

    • ldecesare says:

      She sure had been paying attention to my need to have something with my name on it! ;-) Even though I did blow the secret!

    • Leah DeCesare says:

      She must’ve really been paying attention to my great desire to have something with my name on it! Even though I blew the secret!

  3. Jill Lynch says:

    I remember sitting next to you in either Kindergarten or First Grade.
    We were learning about syllables. Each person was clapping the number
    of syllables in their name. It was your turn…. LE-AH. (Two claps). I
    wanted two claps too. My turn. JI-ILL (two claps… YES!!!). Nope. I
    had to do it again…. JILL. I was SO bummed. Why did I only get one
    clap and Leah was special and got two? If I was Jillian, I’d get THREE
    claps. LOL. The things we remember about names. I’ve always loved your
    name. It is beautiful, and unique, and one of a kind — just like you!

    • Leah DeCesare says:

      Thank you, my friend! That’s so funny, Jill! Mrs. Melcher’s class! Well, I never had any real nicknames, and you got a “y” added to get to your two syllables! :-)

  4. I didn’t know any other people named Leah until college either. As a child I loved having a unique name, and can’t remember ever feeling left out for having nothing pre-personalized. The story in my family is that neither of my two older brothers was named for days because the only name my parents had picked out was Leah.

    As a college freshman going through sorority rush, once I met Kappas Leah H and Lea T, my decision was made. And then came you, with your dynamic personality AND your name, and the three of us wanted so badly to snatch you up!

    • ldecesare says:

      That’s so funny, Leah, I remember being amazed that there were 3 other Leahs in Kappa! My favorite from the start! So happy to “see” you here! You make me smile!

    • Leah DeCesare says:

      You’re funny, Leah, I remember being amazed with all the Leahs in Kappa (my favorite house from the start!) SO great to hear from you here! Leahs Rock!

  5. Megan says:

    I’ve always loved the name Leah! I went to school with a girl who had your name, and she was the only one I knew. I think it’s beautiful :) xo

    • Leah DeCesare says:

      It’s hard (impossible) to hear our name as others do – since it’s who we are – It’s nice to hear people like my name!

  6. Love the name Leah! My middle name is Leigh and when I was young my friends would think it was Leg. And don’t get me started on Kirsten! :) I think unique names may feel like a burden to young kids who don’t want to be different but the older and wiser we get, the more we want that individuality. We own it!

  7. Leah is a beautiful name! One of my dear friends is named Leah and I’ve always thought it was beautiful. Love that you found the Leah necklace and started spelling your name “correctly” again. :) Plus, you know I love your middle name. :)

  8. Melissa_FillingOurBucket says:

    I have always liked the name Leah!! I didn’t realize it was that uncommon, but thinking about it I guess it is. I only knew one Leah growing up!

  9. I love your name. Perfect name for a beautiful girl!

  10. Joanna says:

    I don’t know any Leah’s besides you, but I think it is a beautiful name!

  11. The necklace… that is how you will remember it. So special! My cousin is a Leah, and she is full of energy, say-it-like-it-is, confident, strong mama. I think the definition needs to be updated again!

  12. Heather @ Kraus House Mom says:

    It’s funny how some names go in cycles. I knew one Leah growing up.

  13. Shell says:

    So fun to read these name posts. SO sweet about you finding the necklace and going back to the original spelling!

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