What's in a Name?

[I will post about the birthday party-- a great success-- later this week. Apparently it was so much fun that we forgot to take many pictures so I'll need to get some pictures from my father-in-law.]

Google "Amal Clooney" and you'll get a long list of search results, many of those are about her name change. I saw a linked story on my Facebook feed this morning and started thinking about her name change, feminism, my name change, the grocery list... You know, random shower thoughts. The flow of thoughts that seemingly pour out through your scalp while you're blowdrying your hair. 

I changed my name, without hesitation, when the Mr. and I got married nearly 9 years ago. I had no connection to my maiden name, the name from my father, as he has been almost completely absent from my life. So in my mind I was changing my last name from a name that didn't mean much, given to me by a man who was essentially a ghost, to a name that I had some part in choosing since I was choosing to be with my husband, to follow him where he goes, until the end. We're together, we're a team. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people...  

Just because I changed my name when I got married doesn't mean I think that women who don't change their names are any less married, any less committed. It also doesn't make me any less of a feminist. Even though I stay at home with the kids, our roles feel quite equal. He's the one who makes the kids' birthday cakes! And I handle the money and take out most of the trash. How less gender-typical can we get? 

Had I been attached to my maiden name (what an odd, somewhat antiquated term anyway), I could have kept it as my middle name, or suggested hyphenation. But that's a lot of letters to write and I didn't want that for myself or my (at the time) future children. I gladly accepted his name without thinking that I was losing any of my identity. But I cannot stand for someone to address mail to Mrs. Husband's Name. The name change was frankly the last thing on my mind when we decided to get married. I was thinking of how to handle holidays and how we'd handle shared finances and how to be a wife. 

And now that we have kids who are going to school, I'm Little Lady's Mom or Sweet Boy's Mom. I'd wager that most of the time the kids' teachers couldn't think of my name. How many times have you sat with the same moms at dance class or music class, talked about everything under the sun for weeks on end, and never even know their names, just their kids' names? Talk about losing your identity. Are feminists worried about unknowingly surrendering their identities to their children? 

Changing your name does not transform your identity at the time of your marriage. You find your new self in learning to be a true partner to someone.  

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