January 7, 2010

In the Name of the Kids

Moms - did you ever change your name to that of your spouse , or vice versa (assuming some matrimonial activity took place), to make it easier for the kids? Was it hard? Was it no biggie?

I didn’t. I couldn’t do it. It was too much of a departure of myself, and my identity. Not that I am self-congratulating or think I’m *all that* but it’s just me. I am her, she is me, that’s the way it is. It felt like taking on a whole new name was just a weird, logistical nightmare, and that it would make me totally feel like a stranger in another body.

Maybe too dramatic, I know, but it really screwed with my head, this idea of being called something other than what I had for the whole first 32 years of my life. Not to mention that I was starting to develop a personal and professional brand – or trying to – and all the logistical crap that would need to be undertaken for this exercise.

But most importantly, I just couldn’t work out in my head why in the heck I would even bother. It certainly didn’t make me feel any closer to my husband. In fact, it made me feel like I would almost resent him a bit for taking away my identity and forcing me to adjust to a whole new one. Not that he was asking, he let me sort through that one myself, and wasn’t fussed about what I became (or remained as). A very small part of me railed against the tradition from a woman’s perspective and stubbornly asked “Why me? Why not him?”. We became known as a humorous combination of our two names by our friends, and to this day that is how we are known. It works fine. Hasn’t bothered anyone, really. I don’t judge anyone who has done it as I don’t have an opinion on the matter other than what it meant for me, personally.

All that aside, my latest conundrum.

Kids. Of course, the kids. Many folks have stated they did it for the kids. So the kids would feel part of a whole family, so they wouldn’t always wonder why Mommy was someone else than the rest of them. Some women I know live in this half-world where they go by one thing for the sake of the kids (schools, daycare, border crossings, healthcare), but remain their other selves for the rest of the world. That gives me heart palpitations at the thought of how messy record-keeping would be. Maybe it’s fine? I don’t know.

Personally, I don’t see it happening for me. I feel too strongly against it and not strongly enough that it will be a problem for the kids. I think it’s much more widely accepted now by the world at large and we just need to be careful about all the paperwork that proves guardianship in the small percentage of the time we may need it.

But, I don’t know. Do you struggle with the same situation? Have you given it thought? Will you change for the kids? Are the kids really the issue?

Perhaps we can all just become something new and crazy… the Von WinkelStinkers or something.


linseyv said...

Get this. A few months ago Jackson (at 6!) got lost in WalMart. So he went to a clerk and she asked him what his mom's name was and he told her and then she asked what mom's last name was and he said, "I don't know!" even tho we all have the same name. Apparently they don't care. :)At least mine don't.

Elizabeth said...

Have you ever heard of Measha Brueggergosman? Canadian Opera Diva? Her last name is an amalgamation of her and her husband's last names, creating a whole new beast and they both had to change it. Didn't I see that you guys did that once too? You should all change it to that. Everyone has to suffer at first, and then you all get to share in the glory!

Britni said...

Hi I'm new here, but I just wanted to put in my 2 cents. When I got married I didn't want to change my name. Like you, it was a major part of my identity. However, I am in the military and they assumed that I would change my name so they changed all my records and gave me a new ID. I protested but they said in order to change it back I would need to show divorce papers. Le sigh.

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