What even is an ABEO?

1. Abeo
[3 syll. a-beo, ab-eo] The baby girl name Abeo is pronounced aa-BEH-ow. Abeo is of Nigerian origin. The name Abeo means ‘I bring joy’.

It’s 1995. Two 21-year old’s, who have known each other less than a month, find out that they are pregnant. Before this day, their few weeks together had been filled with the normal partying and young person debauchery. That came to a halt on an afternoon in late December. We decided to just deal, and change our lives for the baby, but first: we had to decide if we even liked each other. There was potential, but it was so new and we were both far too self-absorbed. The Cliffs Notes: Nine months of pregnancy is a powerful way to connect, and our love began to grow.

IMG_1972We found out we were having a girl and the panic set in. I was a girl having a girl. My mother once said to me, in a fit of rage, “Just watch, when you have your OWN daughter, God is going to get you back with a daughter worse than you!” So of course, I was petrified.

What would I teach her? I knew nothing. How would I raise her? I knew more about the best raves in town and memorizing Toad the Wet Sprocket songs than I did about raising a baby. I’d had a pretty tumultuous life up until that point – did I really think I knew more than my own parents? I was still the self-absorbed Gen-X kid BUT I WAS DETERMINED TO DO BETTER.

As the due date crept closer, we tried adjusting our lives. New work, new little apartment; a baby shower gave us some new necessary things. One night we realized: what surname would our baby have? Ryan was the last in his immediate family that carried his father’s name, a man who had taken his own life and left his mother alone with two kids when he was just seven years old. I had recently found out that my legal last name wasn’t my stepdad’s, but my father’s – who I’d had very little communication with throughout my childhood. Bottom line, neither of us wanted to pass along our surnames, or the baggage that came with it, to our child. So we had to decide. What name would she get?

As an adult, I love my name, but I was always one of those kids that grew up hating how long and Italian it was. So the idea of picking our child’s first AND last name made me ecstatic. Of course, I tried convincing Ryan to name her things like “Madonna” and “Venus” and even “Saint Laurent,” but failed. I like to say we decided on “Madison” before the rest of the world jumped on the bandwagon, but after 19 years, it’s a story that Ryan and I have never agreed on. I think it was a combination of watching Splash a few weeks before she was born and the fact that I went to Madison Middle School, but whatever the reason, Madison was her first name. What were we going to do about her last name, and ours?


Fact: Once the state confirms you aren’t evading taxes or an escaped convict or a horrible sex offender, changing your name is easy and like $35.00. So we spent a few days researching names at the public library, and found the perfect name for us: ABEO. She brings joy. We both agreed our new last name would be an affirming reminder of why we were doing this and taking the leap. That moniker would remind us daily of why we were together and what we were working for.

Now trust me when I say: The last 19 years of parenting have NOT been PURE JOY. I’m not here to put pretty pink bows on our life or focus on only-the-good stuff. No one has the perfect journey. Many people have questioned the decisions we’ve made in regards to our marriage, our daughter, and the way we have raised her. We’ve had family and friends side-eye a lot of our choices, judging it all as we went. But somehow, we have made the best of our unpopular or sometimes wild choices, to the surprise of all the haters, and sometimes even ourselves.

IMG_4015When we chose the name ABEO, we hoped it would become a beacon of light during the harder times, a reminder of all we were working towards. But it has become so much more than that. It has become our coat of arms, our trademark, our standard. It is the reason that all of our failures have morphed into successes, because we are all still working together. It is the loving label friends and family use to describe our home and our aura. Abeo – HER JOY – is the reason for it all.





7 thoughts on “What even is an ABEO?

  1. Mariangela, You are the only person I know who went to the public library in search of a new last name. You have a great story to tell and you are a great writer as well. Nice beginning.


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