Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.

What’s in a Name?


I was at a party the other day, working the room like I tend to do. “Hi, I’m Darlene. And you are…?” 

I’ve never been a fan of my name. Most of my life I was always mistakenly called Danielle or Denise. They knew it started with a D but I guess Darlene just wasn’t memorable enough. So I would be renamed-but never nicknamed. 

I always wanted a really cool nickname, but there isn’t a naturally shortened version of Darlene. Both ‘Dar’ and ‘Lene’ feel incomplete. ‘Dee’ just doesn’t seem to fit me. Maybe its too simple and I’m too complicated. I’m not sure. But Darlene always felt like an old person’s name to me. The only other Darlene I knew when I was young, was my Aunt, who was grown. But I was actually named after a young person, a tv character-Darlene from The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950’s, played by Darlene Gillespie. My mom thought her name was just ‘darling’. But here I was, born 20 years later when noone under 30 got the reference, so my name was often forgotten.
Maybe that is why I work so hard to remember names, (though now I have my own aged Darlene brain to contend with making it more challenging than before.) As I mix and mingle with 14 Amy’s, 8 Jen’s, and 22 Laurie’s,  I wonder how they feel about their names? One of the Jens I meet tells me her mom’s name is Darlene.  (Yes, that sounds about right, I think to myself.) And while I’m still not necessarily a fan of my name, I’m mostly comfortable with who this Darlene has become: friendly and charismatic, one who rarely forgets a name, and can strike up a conversation with anyone. Mickey Mouse would be proud!

Comment your thoughts about your name below.


Author: MomSelf

I reflect on being a working mother, wife, daughter, friend, advocate, and sometimes lost self, striving to become the best me and creating an extraordinary life for those I love, while making the world a better place. You can find my other writings on

13 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. What a great Pandora’s box – our names, over which we had little control acquiring! I like that your mom let you know your name came from the Mickey Mouse club person. I used to wish I’d been named after someone but maybe not…! Thanks for sharing.

    • Its interesting too to me that because of my feelings about my name, I was very intentional about my kids 1st and middles names so they have a choice of like 4 different names they could go by!

  2. Never realized how many names/potential nicknames all 3 of your kids have to choose from, or how intentional that was!

  3. I was named after a skier in the 1976 Olympics. I don’t ski much and neither do my parents! I hated my name growing up—Danielle: doesn’t fit into the Iowa Basics test form which only allowed for 6 letters—DANIEL—and I was often confused for a boy on tests), Kane: because it’s my mom’s maiden name and weird and embarrassing, and Rini because it rhymes with many things, including Weenie and there are about 1,000 of us. Anyway, I’m okay with it now. I don’t know who else you’d be except for Darlene. What would you want your name to be? (I love your kid’s names…)

    • I have no idea what other name would be more fitting. I feel like I could’ve been a Danielle, but I would definitely be called Dani. Then, when I wanted to get fancy I’d make people call me Elle. Or Nell or Nellie or Anni. So many options!
      By the way, I wanted my kids to not only have nickname options, but also to have presidential sounding names. Then Barack Hussain Obama blew that theory out of the water!!

  4. Names are a funny thing, aren’t they? We don’t get to choose them, & yet, they carry so much with them…

    I never really liked my name – so freaking common, especially when I was growing up in the early ’90s. Now, though, I just can’t imagine going by anything else. I actually go by my middle name, & when I get married this fall, I’m dropping my first name, making my middle name my first name, making my maiden name my middle name, & taking on my husband’s last name… whew!

    • What the what??? First off, congratulations!!!! Second, whats your middle name? There are so many awesome Kates, and if its short for Katherine, you’ve got the coveted nicknames I’m talking about! One thing’s for sure, names are complicated!!

  5. Hi Darlene;
    I love your thoughts on names. Here’s another rarity for you – “Shirley.” Growing up in a big Italian American household, I couldn’t figure out why I had such a name that I only saw in women 2 generations older than me whose ancestry dated to the Mayflower. It’s one of those names you “don’t find on mugs or keychains.” For a 1970’s kid, I didn’t fit in with all the Lisa’s, Michelle’s, Cathy’s and Linda’s. I’d come to appreciate that uniqueness later.
    As for a nickname, where could this one go? “Shirl?” Boring! It’s a name vulnerable to typos, like the time my community newspaper misspelled my name on the school honor roll to “Shitley.” LOL.
    For years, I wanted to change it, especially since I thought it was an “old lady’s name.” But when my mother told me why she gave me that name, I decided to keep it. “Shirl” it is.

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