I made sure to choose a name so unique for my son, no one in the hospital had even heard it before. But fast forward a few years to a popular TV show and suddenly everyone is stealing his name. If you’re struggling to pick a baby name, here's my advice as a mom with a grown-up son.

By Toni Hargis
Photo illustration by Sarina Finkelstein; Getty Images (1)

I've never been one for jumping on bandwagons. Show me a trend and I usually run in the opposite direction. Not surprisingly then, my rebellious nature shined through when it came time to name my babies. I had definite criteria: The name had to be something different with a slightly classic twist. I’m not talking too edgy, but enough to make people comment on its uniqueness, ask about the origin, or reminisce about a specific decade. Also, they had to be names I wouldn't get tired of, embarrassed about, or force me to ask myself, "What was I thinking?" three years after giving birth.

Baby No. 1 was Cydney. And no, I wasn't trying to be different with the spelling; it was the only way I'd seen it for a girl since it wasn't a wildly popular name. My one and only reference was the glamorous Cyd Charisse from Singin' in the Rain. Now that she's over the childhood disappointment of never finding mugs, T-shirts, or pencils with her name on them, my Cydney actually likes her name. The spelling is still something of a pain, as baristas usually jot down Sydney or Sidney.

The youngest has a family name which is a bit of a classic. Cal, short for Calvin, although since we moved from Chicago to the U.K. in 2017, he'll answer to the more common Callum. He gets a kick out of having almost the same name as famous DJ, Calvin Harris. I still like the name; it won't go out of style, and hopefully Harry and Meghan will leave it off their list of possible options if they have a second kid.

But then there’s my middle child. His name, I hate to say, has become so popular, my quest for originality seems pointless now. The name, you ask? Aidan.

In 1995, it was an unusual name, I promise. It honors my northern English and maternal Irish heritage. Saint Aidan was one of three monks on the island of Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island) in the North Sea, off the coast of Northumberland. The other two monks were Cuthbert and Bede, neither of which my American husband had heard of, and possibly didn't believe were even bona fide names.

Toni Hargis with her son Aidan at his graduation.

Despite the actor Aidan Quinn being fairly well known at the time, no one in our Chicago hospital knew the name and all were curious about its origins. I definitely got cool points for that name choice. (Yes, I know a therapist might have something to say about all this.)

Then, cut to a few years later when Sex and the City had really taken off. Inspired by the on-again, off-again boyfriend of lead character Carrie Bradshaw, the name Aidan began popping up on baby name lists.

What? No! You can't do that. You're stealing MY name.

In the five to eight years after choosing "Aidan," the name went from being attractive and unusual to pedestrian and mainstream. Not quite what I was going for, I can tell you, and I confess I have been known to point out that my Aidan is a good eight years older than the general mass of Aidans running around now.

Aidan was the No. 1 boy's name for what felt like a decade, for crying out loud. Some parents made up the darn spelling too—Aydan, Aydin, Aden, and so on. Others threw convention even further to the wind by sticking consonants on the front! Jayden, Kayden, Hayden, and Zaydon took on a life of their own. (The irony is that we looked at Brandon and Brendan while considering names and decided against them in case they became too popular.)

Fortunately, my son doesn’t feel the same animosity toward the new generation of Aidans. "I like my name. It's unique enough for someone my age and it's also not completely unheard of. Two syllables also means it's not a mouthful," he tells me. Maybe he would’ve been angry if we opted for some of the names from the family tree like Obediah or Shadrach.

Looking back now, if I had the choice again, it would have been hard not to call him Aidan. I still love the name—despite how many more people are walking around with it.



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