Opinion: What’s in a name?


As I was walking on Galveston Beach, contemplating my last day as a dance mom, a stranger greeted me with “What’s going on, Red?” I haven’t been called that in years, which got me thinking about all the names I’ve answered to, and how they represent a sort of identity continuum for me.

As a child, I was “Danielle” most of the time, even though it’s actually my middle name, but I was also “Doe-well” to a younger sister and inexplicably “Fan Tut” to my parents. As I got older, I often found myself having to forgo “Danielle” in favor of my legal first name, which I will obviously never divulge voluntarily but will tell you it starts with a “V.” Yes, tragically my initials are “VD.” I know!

I spent two years at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where predictably I went by my last name or simply “cadet,” though “Red” was used frequently along with some terms I can’t mention in polite company but were also colorful in nature. And once I started teaching, I was “Miss [insert maiden name here]” before eventually becoming “Mrs. Wilson” or simply “Wilson.”

These days, I’m mostly “Mom” (or “Mother” if my kids are feeling particularly sassy) or “Ma’am,” though my husband will toss around “Wife,” “Woman” and “W-word for lady of the night” when he’s trying to be funny. I’ll respond to any of them, really, though I draw the line at “Dan,” “Danny” and “D.” Those are unacceptable and forever shall be.

Hopefully I have a long while until I acquire any new names. I am definitely not ready for “Mamaw.” Peace out.