I thought this week would be the perfect time to share the story behind Benny’s name. Today I shared one of my favorite children’s books, Always Anjali, on Instagram Reels. In the book, the main character has trouble accepting her unique name. Our son is named Benjamin João, and this is the story of how we settled on his name.
The Family History Behind “Benny”
Both my husband and his father are named Benjamin. As a child growing up in London, my father-in-law went by “Benny.” I’ve always loved it as a nickname for Benjamin. One thing is for certain, I sincerely hope Benny doesn’t want to be called Ben when he’s older. That’ll be way too many Ben’s in the family.
A Complicated Journey to “Benny”
Early on in our relationship, Ben told me that he always wanted to have a son and name him Benjamin. I’m making it sound way creepier than it was. I honestly don’t remember how the conversation came about, but it was totally natural. I promise.
Last year, we miscarried a baby boy. We didn’t find out he was a boy until after we had already lost him, and I remember thinking, “Was that our Benny?” We just referred to him as the one we lost as anything else didn’t feel right. When we found out we were pregnant again with a boy, I had a hard time with the name thing. It wasn’t until about 25 weeks that we had a real conversation about the baby’s name. I burst into tears and told Ben that I was confident this baby boy was the one who is supposed to be named Benny- no matter what. We both agreed, and I spent a lot of time wrestling with it in my mind. What if something happens to him? Then what? If this is our Benny, who was the other one? It was only in the days immediately following Benny’s birth that I came to believe that the boy we lost is Benny’s guardian angel. That is exactly how we refer to him now. I feel at peace with that.
The Family History Behind João
We are Portuguese on my father’s side of the family, and it is something I am very proud of. My grandparents immigrated to Brazil and then the US when my father was in middle-school. My Vovo (grandfather in Portuguese) passed away when I was thirteen, and I still miss him all these years later. He was an incredibly hard worker who achieved goals that seemed unattainable. He became a homeowner shortly after immigrating, working two jobs in order to save enough money to pay for the house in cash. A house that my grandmother lived in until just last year. Some might think that a hardworking man like that would be gruff or hard on the exterior. But my Vovo was the kindest, gentlest man there was.
The name João goes back three generations although my father goes by “John” now. It is such an honor to be able to pass that name onto our Benny. No matter where he goes, his middle name will always be a reminder that he comes from a long line of strong, hardworking Portuguese men. I was never one to believe in signs from heaven, but we definitely got one from my Vovo the day Benny was born. February 5, 2022 was also the day that my Vovo would have celebrated his 100th birthday. There is no denying that sign.
Becoming Benny João
Benny’s name has a lot of significance and connection to the men in our family. I’m excited to see what Benny becomes in his future and who he becomes as his own person. Most of all, I’m curious to see if chooses to go by his nickname ‘Benny’ forever.