Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Last Name Thing

You know, there are lots of reasons that I chose not to change my name when I got married. One of them is that I want girls who meet me to know that it's OK to get attached to their names; it's OK to form a sense of identity attached to their names; it's not a forgone conclusion that they'll be giving up their names someday.

That said, however, I do not always enjoy being responsible for educating every ignoramus who's never before encountered a woman who kept her name after marrying. In particular, I get tired of the "And are you two legally married, ma'am?" question that I get asked (I'd bet) a heck of a lot more often than do married women who take their husbands' last names. I bet that if my husband lived with his sister (who had the same last name) most credit card types wouldn't even bother to ask that question. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

While I'm here, I'll list some other reasons that I kept my last name:
  1. I admit that I floundered a bit with my identity shortly after getting married. I never thought that would happen. Certainly Paul didn't have any ideas about how a wife was supposed to be, but it turns out that I do. So I decided to leave things alone until the dust settled and I felt more comfortable in my skin before deciding on a permanent name change. It turns out that I found that I can be happily married with a different name than my spouse. Fancy that. And aside from the pesky questions from creditors, it hasn't been awkward or troublesome at all.
  2. I think the "but what about the kids?!" argument is just an excuse. Turns out that I was right about that too. I has not been at all difficult for me to call up and say, "Hello, this is Sarahlynn Wooster,* Eleanor Wooster-Duke's mom." People aren't confused and neither are we. Ditto when her dad calls.
  3. This one is a bit of a reprisal of number 1: maintaining my sense of identity. Here I am, living this totally suburban life as a stay-at-home mom. The symbolism of keeping my own name reminds me to stay true to who I really am and not get sucked into the keeping up with the jones's thing too far, and to keep up my writing and follow my own goals rather than subsuming my life entirely to my family's.
  4. I like my name. I like my family. I've had both for my whole life. I also like my husband's family, and while I consider myself a part of his family, I wasn't willing to give up my family identity entirely.

And like I said, it hasn't been hard. When we meet new people, we're the Wooster Dukes. I'm a Wooster. He's a Duke. And our daughter is a Wooster-Duke. In one short name she shows the world which families she comes from. It's nice.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.


themikestand said...

Heehee... "Duke." What a funny name.

proca said...

you can play with your name here: http://www.perpics.com/Images.aspx and you're gonna start to like your name a lot