I am pregnant with my second baby due in April, and not only are we having trouble choosing the name of this little angel, but it seems that our 1 1/2 year old daughter's name is also again a subject of the name game... First of all, my name is Kristen and my husband's name is Angelo- I'm surprised our names are not up to debate. Our last name sounds like Scorus, my husband comes from Greece. Our daughter's name is Seraphina Madelyn Scorus - we just loved Seraphina and Madelyn was my Gramma's middle name. We call her Phina most times. I also have a 16 year old stepson traditionally named after my husband and his father- Angelo Jorge. Anyway... we do not know the sex of this baby although if he is a little boy we have settled on Atticus Maximilian. All the aforementioned drama occurs around a little girl's namesake.
We recently learned via a random, and very loud might I add, 2am phone call from Greece that my huband's very lovely, and very traditionally Greek, mother has used the 1 1/2 years following Seraphina's birth to stew on the fact that we did not name her Hericklia after her. Ok I went the unique, religious, traditional route with Seraphina and I am willing to push the name envelope, but I wouldn't even be sure what font to choose for the name Haricklia on baby announcements. And if you're wondering, yes we tried to satisfy this request with Lillian or Lili as a variation, even Harriet, but it's a no-go on the moniker route. I really don't think it's even our middle name style unless Swistle creates a miracle here. Which is entirely possible I've read.
So here I am, listening to advice ranging from "follow tradition" to "it's your baby, don't listen to anyone else." Whatever. Over it. My little girl can have two middle names and my mother (Ginger by the way, oh my goodness) at least understands my predicament and isn't insisting on including her name. Either that or the love of her future granddaughter has caused her to understand the possible effects of the name Haricklia Ginger or, Ginger Haricklia for that matter, stamped on her report card. So all I can think of is adding a third name, but my first daughter has only two. And this only semi-solves one problem- we still can't think of a female sibling name for Seraphina Madelyn, regardless! We've liked Scarlet (but Scarlet Scorus probably not), Charlotte (but we neither live in the city nor the web) and Genevieve (Umm it's okay we guess and Ginger appeared on it's nickname list- proof that I am not entirely an undutiful daughter). Oh, and the whole situation is compounded because due to medical complications, this baby blessing is most likely our last. Oh mighty Swistle, OH MIGHTY SWISTLE, help! Please? Or maybe I can just place an order for a little boy;)
Thank you very much!
If I'm following along correctly, the Greek tradition is to name the firstborn son after his father, and the firstborn daughter after the father's mother? So the tradition was followed for your husband's first child, but then was broken for his second. Is it possible that your mother-in-law isn't even asking to have her name used for the possible second daughter, but is just letting you know she's still mad about the first one?
It seems to me that if your mother-in-law is accepting no compromises on the name, it's unlikely she'd be satisfied by a compromise of the entire tradition (by using the name on a secondborn daughter instead of the first). Nor does it sound as if she'd settle for the second middle name slot. I think at this point it is up to your husband to say to his mother that the first daughter has already been named without following traditions, and that it wouldn't be right to give the firstborn daughter's naming tradition to the secondborn daughter.
However: I am aware that it is one thing to talk about how other people should handle things in our imaginations (where every such confrontation leaves the problematic person speechless in the face of our logic and eloquence), and another thing entirely to implement such plans with real people in real families---especially if the people and families love each other and want to get along and want not to hurt each other's feelings. It's easy for me to say that both your mother-in-law's name and her demands are unworkable; it's another thing entirely for you to have to deal with the fallout while I sit over here and don't have to take any phone calls about it. I do think firmness/resistance is justified here---but when dealing with someone who is already being unreasonable, I don't think it will necessarily help, or work, or bring her to the point of seeing reason and understanding the decision. (Except in my imagination, where she is not only embarrassed about her demands, but also very sorry for waking up a pregnant woman.)
So. That brings us to what WILL work. WILL your mother-in-law accept her name being used as a second middle name, or will she interpret that as a slap? If she will accept it, I think that's what you should do. It would bother me, too, that the sisters would have a different number of names, but it's an easy thing to explain to them with an affectionate roll of the eyes. Your younger daughter can drop the name entirely later on in life, or perhaps she'll like having her grandmother's name and enjoy surprising people with it and then telling the story.
It would also bother me to be giving in to an unreasonable demand (I'm imagining if my late mother-in-law had been making baby-name demands, and I'm not sure that would have ended well for anyone)---but again, sometimes it's the way these things go. A middle-name slot is probably worth it to avoid feuding and hard feelings. And I have some sympathy for her, if for example she winced while following these traditions with her own babies, and was thinking that the upside would be getting a dear granddaughter named after her. (DID she follow the traditions herself? If not, there's your out! If so, it makes it harder.)
If only first-name status will please her, you're stuck and you'll have to make your decision: let your mother-in-law name your babies as well as her own using traditions that are hers but not yours, or prepare wearily to handle the consequences. It's encouraging, though, that the consequence of not doing things her way with Seraphina's name led only to one single 2:00 a.m. phone call a year and a half later.
I know you said your mother-in-law rejects Lillian and Harriet, but I wonder if everyone could come to an agreement on Ariclia. (I'm pronouncing it ah-RICK-lee-ah or air-RICK-lee-ah or air-reh-CLEE-ah in my mind, but perhaps all of these are too different from the pronunciation of Haricklia.) This removes the unfortunate "hair" issue of your mother-in-law's name, while preserving much more of the essence of the name than Lillian/Harriet would. Ariclia seems exotic and usable to me (the names Erica and Leah make the sounds familiar), and a good sister name for Seraphina. I would suggest pitching it as "translating the name into English," instead of as "removing the unfortunate/unusable parts."
Another possibility is to see if she would be satisfied with ANYTHING ELSE. Would she accept a name with the same meaning as hers? Or her mother's name? Is there a traditional nickname for her name that would be usable? Or could you use your husband's grandmother's middle name, to parallel the choice for your first daughter, and explain that THAT'S the naming tradition you're using?
If the decision is made to use Haricklia as the second middle name, I like Felicity for the first name. I like Philomena even better, but I wonder if it's too rhymey with Seraphina. Or Victoria? Seraphina and Victoria. Phina and Tori.
Ooo, or Anastasia! Seraphina and Anastasia! I love that so much.
Kalliopi is a Greek name that looks like a creative spelling but isn't. I might use Calliope instead. Phina and Callie.
That makes me think of Penelope. Seraphina and Penelope. I love that too.
I know all these make for a very long name, but (1) my tastes run to long names for girls and (2) in this case, I'm inclined to think that when you're stuck with two middle names and one is long, AND your first daughter has a long name, you might as well GO FOR IT, length-wise. Anastasia Charlotte Haricklia Scorus. Penelope Charlotte Haricklia Scorus. Genevieve Charlotte Haricklia Scorus. WORK that alphabet. Or, of course, use a shorter middle name for the first of the two: Anastasia Jane Haricklia Scorus, Penelope Kate Haricklia Scorus, etc.