What’s In A Name?

October 17, 2008

We knew there was a problem when the border guard leaned out of the window of his little cubicle and tried to peer into our car.

He gestures towards the backseat, our passports clutched in his hand. “Who’s the mother of that baby?”

“Um… me?” Why on earth would he ask me that? He has the passports in his hand.

“Do you have identification for that baby?”

“Um… you’re holding it? That’s his passport.”

“His last name is different from yours, ma’am. I have no way of knowing if this is your baby. Do you have a letter from the father?”

This conversation is starting to make me anxious. Katie, in the driver’s seat, is gripping the steering wheel tightly and trying to look virtuous.

“No, I don’t have a letter. I wasn’t aware that I needed one. I have a passport for him. You’re holding it.” I’m starting to babble. “You can call my husband if you want, but I guess that doesn’t help, right? Because I could just give you any old number, and how would you know it was my husband, so…” shut up shut up shut up “I don’t know what you want me to do; I mean, that is my baby…”

The border guard is staring at me with that blank but vaguely threatening bureaucratic stare that is the trademark of border guards, traffic cops, DMV employees and hair salon receptionists.

“His last name as indicated on this passport is different from yours, ma’am. He might not be your baby. And you have no travel letter. You could be taking him from his father.”

“But we’re on our way BACK to Canada. We’re RETURNING from a trip. We’re going BACK to where we came from. And he IS my baby. He IS.” I want to tell this guy that I have the scars to prove that I birthed this baby and that he’s welcome to see them IF HE DARES but I bite my tongue. Border guards have no sense of humor, and, also, it’s not like a display of my scarred nethers would prove anything. It’s not like Jasper left his gang tags on the walls of the birth canal on the way out. Any baby could have been responsible for that blast site. There’d be no way of proving that it was him. At least, not out here at the Thousand Islands border crossing in the middle of the night on a long weekend.

My voice is starting to get that hysterical edge. “That’s my husband’s last name on his passport, and I am married to my husband and this is our baby and I’m headed home to him but I have no way to prove that to you so I don’t know what you want me to do, seriously.”

The border guard looks at the passports, and then back at Katie and I, and then back at the passports again. “Okay,” he says. “I don’t get a bad feeling from you.” (WTF?) “I believe that this is your baby. I’m going to let you go. Next time, though, you need to bring more documentation with you.” He leans out of his border-guard cubby and hands us back our passports. “On your way.”

Katie hits the gas and peels away before he can change his mind.

We don’t say anything to each other for a few minutes.

“I think we brought back more liquor than we were supposed to. Thank god he missed that,” I say. I roll down the window to get some air. “Also, I think that I’m going to take Kyle’s name.”

*****

I don’t have any special attachment to my family name, apart from the fact that I’ve used it most of my life, which is significant, I know, but still. It’s not a true family name. My father picked it out of a hat, literally, when I was not quite two years old; he changed our family name after a falling out with his stepfather caused him to want to sever all ties with that part of his family. So my birth certificate was amended and I ended up with the family name that I have now. There’s no ancestry attached to it, no legacy. It’s just a name.

But it’s my name, and the one I’m used to. When I married my husband, I kept that name. I made a half-hearted effort to use a hyphenated version of our names, but it was hard to keep up, and, also, it sounded funny and pretentious, like it needed to be spoken with one’s lower jaw locked and all of one’s vowels and consonants enunciated clearly and separately. It’s not that I was opposed to taking his name, but nor was I opposed to keeping my own, and I just kinda lapsed into the easiest choice. I had a vague notion that I might change it to his when and if we had children, but that seemed a long way off.

I hadn’t thought again about changing my name until the other week – the week prior to being challenged by the border guard – when Emilia introduced herself to a little old lady that we encountered in the park. “My name is Emilia M—–” she said proudly, pronouncing, very carefully, every syllable. “And this is my brudder, Jasper M—–” She indicated the bundle in the stroller. “And this is my mommy, Caffrin M—–.” She beamed at me, proudly (is there any other way to beam?) and accepted the woman’s cheerful admiration of her language skills and general adorability. I, however, felt a little bit ashamed. My daughter doesn’t know my name. And, will she be disappointed that it is not the same as her own?

And: Am I disappointed that it is not the same as her own?

I was proud of her pride in introducing her family. I was proud of and heart-burstingly pleased by her delight in our us-ness. This is us, she told that lady. We are a family.

Does it matter that we don’t all share the same name? In the larger scheme of things, no, probably not. It doesn’t matter to me that border guards might challenge me on my children’s names. It doesn’t matter to me that some people might have judgments about me not taking my husband’s name, or about me not sharing my children’s name. What does matter to me, though, is this: my childrens’ feelings about our name. Perhaps Emilia wouldn’t care so much, if she knew. Call me but love, said the poet through the voice of Romeo. The name doesn’t matter, where there’s love. But I remember being a kid, and taking pride in my family, and really loving that we were us, that we were, we four, all Connors, that we alone in the world shared this name as our own, and that it set us apart. We were the Connors, and we were family.

That I loved, that I love, being a Connors, is precious to me. But that family unit is no more. My family, now – the family that is the very seat of my heart – is the M—–’s. And I want my children to have the same pride in being – with their mom and their dad – the M—–’s as I did being a Connors.

Perhaps it’s time to make that change.

What did you do? Did you keep your name, or not? If you didn’t, how do you or will you sort this out with your children? How do they feel about it? INQUIRING AND BEFUDDLED MIND WANTS TO KNOW

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    { 247 comments }

    Michelle October 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    When we had our first child we weren’t yet married and I chose to give my daughter her fathers last name. Yet it bothered me that I didn’t share the last name with the rest of my new little family so when we did get married last year I did indeed take my husbands last name.

    - Kellie October 17, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Dropped my original middle name (which I never, ever liked and was pleased to get rid of), moved my maiden last name to the middle, and added DH’s name at the end. Everything I have has all three names, so my original last name is in there (made newlywed travel easier, former friends/classmates/co-workers can find me), but my “new” last name is the same as my DH and children.

    Kelly October 17, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I took my husband’s name. I am traditional, and it meant a lot to my husband that we have the same name to signify that we are a family unit. Our having children makes this even more important to us.

    Kelly October 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I should mention that I dropped my middle name and made my maiden name my new “middle,” too! That way I could still honor my side of the family.

    WabiSabiLife October 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I took his name for three reasons:

    1) I always said I’d change my name if I married a man whose name was more unique than mine (I thought that’d be hard and I’d be safe!). But guess what happened…?

    2) I have a unique first name and never felt my identity required more than that. I fancied myself to be like Cher or Madonna. Who really cared what my last name was? Which leads to:

    3) He cared more than I did.

    Tiffi33 October 17, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I changed my last name..after 8 years of marriage..heh..I am a slacker to the nth degree!!
    of course that was offically..I started using it right when we got married..

    I grew up in a household w/ my name being the ONLY different one and it bugged me greatly..
    I did slightly mourn losing my maiden name..it was odd (Buggy for anyone who is interested…it is Irish) tho I had grown to love it!
    What did suck about changing names was going from a short last name to a LONG one..ugh..
    for me, it was never a real thought to keep my maiden name..I always wanted a cohesive family unit, w/ all the same last name..

    Mimi October 17, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    My name is my stepfather’s so it’s not one that’s mine by blood, but I kept it: it’s more euphonious with my first name, it’s my adult name, my professional name, my own damn name.

    Munchkin actually knows that I’m Mimi H– M–, and she is Munchkin H– B–. She has her Daddy’s last name and her Mommy’s middle name. That satisfies her. She is learning everyone’s last name, but does seem to think that everyone’s middle name is H–

    You know what? In Iceland, every kid has a different last name than either of his parents: Jasper would be Jasper Kylesson, and Emilia would be Kylesdottir. You would be Catherine Dadsdottir, etc. No horseshit intimadation from no damn border guards, and everyone is linked, but their own self, too.

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Here’s the thing. I know so many women who did NOT change their surnames when they were married, which I totally understand. But NOT ONE OF THEM gave their “maiden name” to their child… in every single case the children share a surname with their father. WTF?? Isn’t that worse? ONLY the father has a name connection with the child?

    jennster October 17, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    blake has my last name, which is why when i married boyfriend, i didn’t change my last name completely. i DID intend to hyphenate, but when i sent away for me NEW social security card with my new last name on it….. it came in the mail exactly the same as it was before. so i still haven’t added his name to mine. some days i don’t care- i am jenn ster and that is who i want to be. but then there are days when my dad i remember that my dad is a cheating rat bastard who married some stupid whore and that dumb whore TOOK his last name and it DISGUSTS ME UTTERLY to have the same last name as the cheating whore. and that alone makes me want to change my last name altogether to boyfriends. but i’d never do that to blake.

    Mimi October 17, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Why are we always changing ourselves to make other people happy, to save them the bother? Teachers, administrators, border guards, passport agents. They’re all still living in 1950, and so all the women on earth have to change their names to make it ‘easier’?

    Maybe if passports allowed the names of both parents to be listed, C, you wouldn’t have to get Kyle’s written permission to leave the country. Or try to prove Jasper is your baby. Or change your name to not make trouble.

    Her Bad Mother October 17, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Mimi – yeah, that’s the part that make me NOT want to do it – just because I resent that there’s social/bureaucratic pressure to do it. But there still are some personal reasons… just need to weigh those against my desire to always be contrary… ;)

    Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy October 17, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I kept my maiden name until I had my son. I quickly got sick of the “who is the mother” questions AND them constantly putting the wrong name for him.

    I do occasionally have pangs of regret about changing it. It does make life easier for now – can I change it back when he hits 18???

    Her Bad Mother October 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Also, Jennster? Damn I love you.

    Elaine October 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Me again! I love reading all these comments! As everyone says, it is a highly individual decision. It’s interesting to me there were a few who seemed to know definitively as children that they would/would not change their names. I didn’t even know what color pants I wanted to wear! And so many choose base on their children or their accomplishments and identities as adults.

    I have a friend, Sarah Smith, who married a Jack Smith. And the kick in the pants is that she actually applied for a new social security card as Sarah Smith because she/they thought the name-change process was important in establishing their identity as a unit. I would not have gone through all that, but I admire the thought they gave to the process!

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I am in a relationship at the moment where we are talking about getting marriage. I have told him my commitment to his last name depends on how big the ring is. No-I am not really that shallow but it sure is fun to watch his facial expressions. Because he doesn’t know which subject to argue with.
    But on a serious note I have a friend who is a doctor. And she used to say I didn’t go to school for 7 years to be Dr. S. I went to 7 years of school to be Dr. J. When she got married she added her husband’s name to hers. So she goes by Dr. J at work and Mrs. S at home/school.

    Maggie October 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    This was a toughie for me too. I was in a MA program for Women’s Studies so when I married I was pretty determined to keep my name. The hubs didn’t care either way. Then I found myself pregnant with my first and I wanted us to have the same name. I briefly entertained hyphenation (too much of a pain for me) or making the hubs change his name but decided I was attached to my name for no good reason. Not that it stopped me from CRYING LIKE A BABY in the social security office :) So for my husbands first fathers day, while I was still preggers, I gave him a card with my new drivers lic in it. He cried – I had no idea he would really care and I don’t think he did either.

    The unfortunate side is that I’m now stuck with a lic with a pic where I am all 8 mo fluffy preggers ;)

    Kristen M. October 17, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    The name thing was never a big deal to me. I love my family name but when I got married it just seemed natural to change my name as part of the two becoming one thing.

    Bea October 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I just took a trip to the U.S. with two friends and their itty bitty babies, and they did have letters with them (because one of them works at the passport office and knows that kind of stuff) and it was striking how utterly easy to falsify such a letter would be. If you actually were planning to kidnap a baby, it would not be hard to type up a letter from an accomplice or an imaginary father and present it all official-like. If anything, having the letter should look suspicious.

    The same friend who works at the passport office changed her name because she thought she would want to have the same name as her kids, and now she wishes she hadn’t. She almost never actually uses her husband’s name, and when she calls her daycare she always says “This is [maiden name], Baby’s mom.”

    I’m no expert on how to handle name-changes: I use my husband’s name in my personal life and my ex-husband’s name in my professional life, and if that’s not messed up I don’t know what is.

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Hi, I changed my name 20 years ago when I got married. We had two children together and all share the same last name. Over the years we have travelled alone with the children and were still asked for verification at the boarder that the other parent authorized the travel. One time my husband and I were travelling back from the US on two different flight each with one child. I was questioned while my husband was not? Luckily my son was 4 at the time and able to verify that I was infact his mother! Even if you change your name make sure you have the letter when you travel without your husband.

    MamaDrama October 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I changed mine for the reason of the kids. I just wasn’t attached to my maiden name, and there is now way I could keep it straight. Plus married name is 12 letters long, so no way would I hyphenate. It was a royal pain to do all the changing, but it makes it easier at the kids’ doctor’s office, now at school, since I have a kindergartener, and for any future international travel.
    Sorry the border guards scared you, though..

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I was 19 when I got married and already had my daughter so I didn’t think twice about taking my husband’s last name. When we got divorced, I kept that name because it was easier with the kids, blah, blah. When I remarried, I took my new husband’s name. So even though none of us have hyphenated names, we are a hyphenated family. Our mailbox says Richter-Shepardson Family and our friends and family send invatations, church newsletters, etc. addressed that way. I would get a letter from their father for out of country travel anyway, since we’re divorced.

    Mia October 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I didn’t really want to give up my name either…after all, everyone knew me by that name! Luckily, I had a blank space where the middle is supposed to be and I just placed my last name there… problem solved.

    Glad you got the liquor through! (smiles).

    Veronica October 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Your reasons are why I changed my name. I wanted us all to have the same last name as a family. We could have both hyphenated, but he was not willing, and as you say, hyphens have problems of their own. Though we joked for a while that we would mutually change our last names to Moriarty so that if we finished the PhDs we could be “The Drs. Moriarty.” Because who wouldn’t love being the Drs. Moriarty?

    for a different kind of girl October 17, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I took my husband’s last name when we married. Never really considered not, even though I was fine with my maiden name. When our oldest son was born, we gave him my maiden name as his first name, and I have to admit, the kid’s full name makes him sound like a kick ass spy or future president (but that assumes he’ll get his act together in school, but that’s a different story).

    I have a friend who kept her maiden name when she married. No big deal. When she and her husband eventually had children, their son, the firstborn, was given the father’s last name. A few years later, they decided to have another child, and I guess we all just assumed that child would also be given the father’s last name, but when the baby was born – this time it was a girl – they gave her my friend’s, the mother’s, last name. I’m sure it’s fine. They’re very young and not yet in school yet, but (and this is just my opinion) in a sense, it feels disjointed. What will the kids think when they realize they have different last names? How confusing will it be to others who meet them as a family later on? Doesn’t it sometimes feel like there is “ownership” one parent has over the other child because they have their last name? I don’t know. It was just a twist I’d never heard of before.

    Shannon October 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    This is the second time I have heard this this week – and I NEVER knew you were supposed to have a letter from the baby’s father. Over Thanksgiving dinner I was talking to my husband’s cousin from Toronto who was saying she crossed the border with their son last month and she brought a letter from the father saying it was “okay that he leave the country with his mother”. Totally weird. I guess I see the point – but still. I would never have known this if it weren’t for two accounts of this coming to my attention in the past five days . . .

    Those guys at Thousand Islands are sticklers. I go through often when I shop in Syracuse, and they’re always questioning me and trying to nail me for something. What’s the big deal with coming BACK into the country with a baby? Obviously if you had kidnapped the kid, there would have been an Amber alert or something?????

    I took my husband’s last name when we were married in 2000. I didn’t really want to b/c I firmly wanted to keep my family name and heritage (no brothers so no one to carry on the legacy, lmao). Hubby is Irish and traditional, so in the end he won and I took his name. I haven’t really regretted it and on a number of occasions it’s just been easier. Many of my friends did not change theirs, I was certainly in the minority of the mid-30s/educated/married-with-kids people I hang out with.

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Hmm interesting. I’m Iranian-American and in Iran, women actually keep their maiden names after marriage. The kids take the husband’s name but having different last names within the family is not an issue.

    Sam October 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I replaced my middle name with my maiden name and took my husband’s name as my last name. It avoids the clunky hyphenated thing but gives me the warm fuzzy of having my late father’s last name hanging around.

    feefifoto October 17, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    As a single parent by choice, I carry a copy of my kids’ birth certificates inside their passports to prove that there is no father. Not once have I ever been asked for evidence that they’re mine or permission from another parent to travel with them. You just got unlucky.

    Snarky Amber October 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    As you know, I don’t have babies, and I might never have babies. But I did choose to take my husband’s name, after much internal debate. See, my last name was the last name of my step-father, and he was an awful, horrible human being and abused me for years. I suppose I could have changed my name, but I liked the idea of changing that name to be something meaningful, and who means more to me than Andrew?

    Yet, I feel I am constantly justifying that choice, to myself and others, because, identifying as a feminist – well, it’s just simply not done! I am often made to feel like I’m not a *real* feminist because I took my husband’s name, when in fact I did it as an act of self-empowerment. I took it to symbolize a new beginning and a new life I was making with him. And I love his father and want to do honor to him as a man I respect. It was not forced on me, or a symbol of a transfer of ownership. It’s just a name, sure, but his name has far better meanings for me than my unmarried name did.

    I wish I still didn’t feel apologetic or defensive about it, but I do.

    C October 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I did take my husband’s last name.

    Mostly this is because I didn’t have a huge attachment to my last name, and I wanted to share the last name my children will have.

    But as a teacher I learned very quickly never to assume that students and parents (especially moms) shared the same last name.

    mommymae October 17, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    i chucked my maiden name. i really wanted to use it as my middle name, but would rather my kids didn’t. i put a lot of thought into their names and wouldn’t want them to get rid of their middle names.

    ewe are here October 17, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I kept my name because I like me name. It’s me.

    My husband could have cared less, one way or the other.

    And we gave the boys both our last names… much for the reason you cite… gets us across borders easily.

    Although, Jasper’s middle names should be on his passport… and the guard should have noticed that one matched your name… well, at least I think it should have worked this way.

    FishyGirl October 17, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I grew up in a southern family that calls everyone by their first AND middle names, e.g. Betty Sue Smith, so I grew up being known as FirstMiddle, Last Name, in my family, even though I only go by my first name to everyone else on the planet. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I got married, and hubby said he didn’t care, though I think he really did. I didn’t much like my maiden name, but didn’t know what the heck I would do when I got married. When we did, I got checks written to any and all variations of the name, so to keep it from being confusing, I use two middle names, and sign them as two middle initials in my signature. I go by Firstname Husband’sname, and now that we have 4 kids, it sure does make life a lot easier, though it took me 15 years of marriage to really get used to being called Mrs. Husband’sname.

    sassymonkey October 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’m reading a lot of people say that they want the entire family to have the same name. I grew up in a blended family – 7 kids, 3 last names. We *never* felt like we weren’t a family or that we were any less of a family because we had different names. Others may have felt so and I recall one circumstance where someone tried to indicate otherwise. They were swiftly told where to go (I was a precocious and opinionated 10 year old).

    If you are married and changed your last name it doesn’t make you any less a family member of the one you grew up in does it? It’s the same thing.

    Last names don’t make a family – family makes a family.

    Robyn - Chique*Life October 17, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    It’s a sensitive area. I have a very compelling reason for women to NOT change their names.

    They become invisible. Try and look up the girls you went to high school with. You can’t find them if they changed their names. It makes me sad.

    My idea is that girls are named for their mothers and boys for their fathers. It’s fair and empowering to women and girls.

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Catherine, I realize this doesn’t apply to your situation, but I haven’t yet seen a similar story here. My husband and I both changed our name to something new when I was @ 8 months pregnant. We messed around with anagrams, never really considered hyphenation, but I wasn’t about to change my name to his dysfunctional alcoholic step-dad’s. Not interested in passing that legacy on to the next generation. My family’s no better, so I didn’t want him to take my name either. ‘Twas a quandary. Of course it was hard to find something we could live with forever. Fortunately, it came to my husband in a dream after months of hand-wringing and discarded options. Now we are the Holidays, a name that we can invest with whatever meaning it will eventually hold for us and our children, and one that makes me smile every day. I was expected to change my name when I married (though I didn’t until 8 yrs later), so my family wasn’t very fussed about it. It’s not as accepted by my husband’s family, though he does use his old name professionally, since he had already established himself as an entertainer. It feels great to have a fresh start as a family, for better or worse, and we are glad to finally share a name that we love.

    DC October 17, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I will not change my name when we are married. Not that his last name is horrible or anything, but because we have the same first names.

    Having the same first AND last names? I don’t think so. ;)

    A little part of me is glad, because I LOVE my last name. And then there is that part of me that is sad, because of our kids and all the future trouble.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future.

    Lukasmummy October 17, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    My boys had my name and when we got married my DH changed his name. Hugs Crystal xx

    Maman October 17, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    My maiden name is now my middle name, so I am still the old me…. but the new one too… if you can call me the new me after 19 years of marriage.

    Don’t think that will solve your problem though. When I changed my drivers license, the folks at the DMV asked me if I wanted to keep the old number or the new. I kept the old. It has a letter in it that I identifies me alphabetically. It still has an “M” Everytime, I have had to show my drivers license to an officer, they complain that I don’t have a legal ID because it doesn’t have an “N” instead of the “M”.

    So there is no winning. Which I think you would acknowledge is no freaking surprise.

    Shannon Hillinger October 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    I kept my last name because my husband is not at all attached to his. It was given to him by an adoptive father who then left his mother when she was pregnant with their second child and hubby was 4 years old. We decided since he has no family attachment to his last name to give our kids my last name instead. But he doesn’t want to go through the hassle of changing his last name. Our baby is only 5 months old, so she doesn’t have an opinion on this subject yet, but your post mad me check the customs departments rules for bringing a baby across the border since we are planning to visit in two weeks. It looks like I get to spend the rest of her childhood carrying around her birth certificate even after she gets a passport, and notarized letters if we ever want to travel separately.

    Sarcastica October 17, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    I’d probably take Matt’s name, if we ever were to marry. My sisters are all hell bent on keeping our last name, but with Matt’s last name I’d sound more like a celebrity!

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Well, I changed my name. I actually disliked my maiden name, as it was an easy name to make fun of, as a kid. My husband’s name, while not easy to spell, only transformed easily into one term of mockery — and one that didn’t have any emotional content, for me, or for him either. So, when he told me he’d take my name, I told him “No way. I’ll take yours.”
    I’ve never regretted it.

    Ernesta October 17, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I’ll add my two cents — I decided at 11 yrs old that it wasn’t fair that girls had to change their names and boys didn’t. I was shocked when my newly wed husband went to the bank and set up cheques for us in his name…short discussion later the cheques were revised with my maiden name. Having said that, my young daughter knows my name is different and would probably like it to be the same…although I feel some guilt, I won’t be changing my name.

    Marianne October 17, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I changed my name when I married 4 years ago. I felt that my name reflects who I am … and when I married my husband, changing my name was reflective of the change I had made in my life. It was also important to me that our future children share the same last name with both of us.

    As a teacher, it may be slightly easier administartively to have the same last name as your kids — but I’d estimate about 50% of the kids in my school have a last name different from one parent or the other — between women not changing their names, un-married parents, divorce, remarriage, and different cultural norms it’s not unusual. However, families with different names just have to remember not to be mortally offended if the teacher calls them Mrs. Child’s-last-name instead of by the name they actually use … I do my best to remember the correct parent names, but with the number of students I teach I can’t always keep track — I might remember that the name is different, but then I also have to fish the correct name out of my memory bank — and sometimes that just doesn’t work as well as I’d like it to!

    Anonymous October 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    I kept my last name. DHs last name is a spelling nightmare!!lol Most women around here do keep their names so it’s not a big deal. When I call the kids’ school or some such place, I’ll often just use the same last name as the kids just for ease, but my name is officially my maiden name. What I did do for ID purposes is get a credit card that shows both my last name and DHs last name, just so there’s some sort of link between us. BTW, a few weeks ago, DH took DS to the USA. I wrote a letter stating that I was aware and allowing it. DH did it as a precaution, but the border guy actually asked him for proof. Here’s the thing though, couldn’t DH just type up a letter and sign my name… what kind of proof is that really!!! BTW, my kids have my last name as a middle name which I think helps link us together. I’m definitely keeping my name though… it’s who I am. Glad you made it back across!!

    Julie

    Anita the Ovolina October 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I couldn’t wait to take my husband’s last name because I am Italian and my last name has many vowels that Americans always mis-pronounced. Now I always announce my last name proudly DOBERMAN – it sounds so American to me …I know the immigrant syndrome, trying to fit in even though I have been here 17 years…..but hey old habits are tough to break!

    Katy October 17, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I took my husbands name which is the equivalent of going from “Jones” to “Rumplestiltskin” (my husband is Iranian) because I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork shitstorm necessary to travel with children. (I may procrastinate on every other thing I’ve ever done in my life but on this one, I planned ahead.)

    Somehow I thought the Canadian boarder guards were a nicer, gentler version of the American hard-ass guards. Apparently I was wrong. They even get the same gut-feelings that have nothing to do with anything real that American guards do. Who knew?!

    You should have shown him your nether regions, Jasper probably got a tag in there somewhere – you just didn’t notice in the confusion of the moment. ;-)

    Mel October 17, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    My husband and I got married a year and a half ago. He wasn’t a fan of the whole hyphenating thing my mom did, but he did want us all to have the same name — he even said I could keep my name if I wanted, and he would change his to mine. But I ended up taking his for what may be a silly, selfish reason: it’s easier to spell and pronounce. I grew up with a name I thought was fairly simple (but apparently not to telemarketers looking to make something more difficult than it really was — and well-meaning friends who just didn’t pay attention). I was ready for the change when we decided to get married. Actually, I still haven’t changed my driver’s license…. :)

    Mandy October 17, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    My entire life, I never thought I would change my maiden name upon marriage. But then, when I started teaching in Vancouver, it soon became horribly confusing when multiple kids would have different surnames from not just one, but both of their parents. It became really hard to know who to speak to about the child.

    I decided when I got married to change my name (although I use my maiden one at work still to avoid the impression of nepotism). It took a long time to get used to being called Gratton, but I’m finally over it.

    Oh, and the letter at the border thing… I had one three years ago when I went over the border alone with Nate. I gave it to the border guard and he said, “Why are you giving me this?” … heh. You can’t win.

    HeatherK October 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I changed my name only because any hyphenated/combo would have been a mulitsyllabic nightmare. The only place my ‘maiden’ name lives is on Facebook.

    I have a friend who did a her name his name and then over the years it seems she uses more of his name.

    Is the M a mouthful? Can you do a C. Connors M___?

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