To meet you

My dearest peeps,

After nearly two years of being Mama JJ, I’ve had enough. I’m mama to my kids, and my initials are JJ, but I’m not Mama JJ. I’m Jennifer Jo.

There, I said it.

Hi. My name is Jennifer Jo.

(Firm handshake.)

It’s nice to meet you. And you are—?

The last name is not coming out any time soon, but it’s not that much a part of my identity; it’s my husband’s name after all, just a little addition to my real name. So for now, I’ll just bippity-bop along with Jennifer Jo.

It’s feels so good to say that. I had no idea!

I’ve always liked my name. Never mind that my parents were totally uncreative—the year I was born the top girl name was Jennifer and the top boy name was Michael. But in all fairness, I don’t think they knew that till after they named me. Besides, it was rather comforting to be named the same thing as all my other classmates; it was the only thing I had in common with them, and without the popular name stamp, I would’ve been a total social misfit.

And anyway, my parents gave me a really cool middle name: Jo, as in Little Women Jo. You know, the writer girl whose manuscript met a fire-y grate, I mean fate. (As of yet, I’ve never burned documents, only deleted them. I once got so angry over one that I threw—and broke—a chair. But I don’t want to talk about that right now.)

I wasn’t ever really called “Jennifer Jo.” It’s always been “Jennifer.” But there have been variations on the theme:

Jenny (my grandma)
Jen (a handful of friends)
Yenisfair (the Nicaraguans)
Hot Little Thang (Mr. Handsome)
Mama, Jen, Mama!, JENNIFER! (my kids when they’re trying to get my attention)

But most everyone calls me just plain old Jennifer.

(Mr. Handsome doesn’t actually call me “Hot Little Thang,” and with good reason. First, I’m not a Thang. Second, I’m not little [I used to be almost 5′ 9″ but I recently discovered I’m shrinking and am now closer to 5′ 8″ so by the time I’m eighty I just may qualify for some small adjectives]. Third, I’m not hot, body temperature-wise. In fact, whenever I climb into bed at night, Mr. Handsome yells YOU’RE AN ICE CUBE! and then I press my icy-cold hand on his toasty, tender tummy just to make him cry.)

I never had any nicknames when I was growing up. My parents were pretty strict about calling me and my brothers by our full, three-syllable-long names. “We gave you a name we like. Why would we want to shorten it?” they asked. My dad did call me “Ginger” every now and then, and my highschool friends called me “The Oatmeal Child” because of my healthy lunches, naivete, and creamy complexion. My mom sometimes calls me “Jefinner.” I’m not sure why.

As for the meaning of my name, it’s quite boring. It means fair one, white wave, white cheek, and white spirit. I’ve certainly got the white bit down—I’m about as white as they come without being albino. But wouldn’t it have been so much more interesting if my name meant “runs at the mouth” or “word slayer” or “lover of sweet things” or “sieve head”—something that speaks to my personality, not what I look like? But I guess there’s nothing I can do about it. My cheeks are white and my name is Jennifer.

It has been, and will continue to be, a pleasure.

Yours truly,
Jennifer Jo

About one year ago: thick, creamy homemade yogurt


  • Margo

    I'm glad you don't mind being called JJ, as that's how I've been abbreviating your name on my blog 🙂

    Maybe you knew, but Genevieve and Jennifer are lumped together in the baby books. I think "white wave" is the oddest meaning. But Genevieve is also the patron saint of Paris, which I like.

  • Anonymous

    If the shrinking S. doesn't like the JJ. why doesn't this person reveal what's behind the S.

    I've known you since day one. Back when I was still just your 2nd cousin once removed. You've always been Jennifer but I find myself referring to you as JJ.

    Aunt V.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Mavis, You do NOT have to call me Jennifer Jo. JJ is just fine. In fact, it's how I sign all my emails and mark personal papers and such. I really do feel like a JJ, just not a Mama JJ. Though after two years of being Mama JJ, the name has sorta incorporated itself into my identity. But the bottom line is this: call me whatever you want and I'll come running. Now, go save some money.

  • It's me ...Mavis

    I had no idea you were that tall… not that I ever thought about it… but I guess I would of pegged you at about 5' 5"…hmmm…Do I have to call you Jennifer Jo? I don't like the idea that you are changing you name after I have been reading your blog for a whole year… can I just call you JJ instead? I'm okay with droping the "mama" part… but no the JJ. Pleaes get back to me on this… as I won't be able to leave for my double coupon adventure without knowing the answer.

  • Mama Pea

    You 'bout scared the crumpets out of me when you started this post. I thought you were chucking your blog. Whew. That was a close one.

    I'm happy coming out of the (name) closet feels good to you.

    Me? I'm still hanging on to Mama Pea for a while at least. My parents both had "different" first names and so gave my brother and me very common names so we wouldn't feel out of it. So I went through grade school with five (yes, 5!) girls with the same first name in my class. I hated it.

    I, in turn, gave my daughter an unusual first name. Which she hated when she was young. But now, happily, likes.

    At any rate, although you may not be Mama JJ any longer, I still like you, Jennifer.

  • Cookie baker Lynn

    Hi Jennifer, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Lynn, but you already knew that. I love the name Jennifer – I know some strong, brilliant, independent women with that name. In fact, I considered naming my youngest daughter Jennifer. Add it to my last name and you'll know why that choice got axed.

    My Rx for shrinkage – Magnesium Calcium supplements and exercise with weights. Good for bone density.

  • Mr. H.

    It is very nice to meet you Jennifer, my creative parents gave me the top boy name..Michael, although I prefer Mike. I have considered changing my name, on my blog, from Mr. H to Mike many times and wish I would have done so from the beginning. Good for you!:)

  • Amy

    A few nights ago, as I crawled into bed, I groaned and sighed….and my hub said "What's wrong?" I said "Nothing putting my feet on you won't help." This was about the time he yelped. Heeee….

    (My sister's name is Alaina Jo. She hates it. Clearly, she has never read Little Women.)

  • Anonymous

    yeah, I never liked the JJ thing!

    Seriously you have lost some height!?!

    I am almost relieved, I have lost an inch myself and no one else I know has (except for the lovely senior sector of my friends) and I was beginning to think something is wrong with me.


  • Kris

    And my children, when handing me the phone with your call, tell me in delightful French accents that Zhenny-faire is calling…

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