04 June 2009

This is Potentially Going to be a War....

Then again, maybe no one will notice but me.

I'm going to change my name.

I am 53 years old. I grew up in the Deep South with as conservative a background as comes. I have been married for 22 years and have two children from this marriage and we have a life and a place and a routine but...WHY THE HELL DO I HAVE THIS MAN'S NAME?

I mean, it's not like it's a purty name, or a distinguished name, or a meaningful name. There are some names I could see enjoying..."Lancaster" is a pretty name. "Rockefeller" would have nice connotations, as would "Astor." (I've always thought Astor had a lovely ring...maybe it's the flower, though.) Or something French...how cool would "Devereaux" be, if you're from CENTER STAR, ALABAMA?!

Looking around, the family whose name I carry has only been in this area for three generations. They came here and established themselves and had a good life but...what does that have to do with me? They're not related to anyone in this county other than themselves; in spite of the fact that my husband's dad was one of eight kids, there's no one left here but my husband, his parents and a first cousin and his father...who have different last names.

If you divide the county (which is the single longest county in this state, FYI) by natural boundaries...there's a body of water that runs north to south. And I am related to most of the people on the east side of that creek. Been here a LONG time...long enough to have Indian ancestors. (Not the noble Indians, regretfully. The trashy ones.) Long enough to have a place. Long enough to be the person I grew up to be.

So why do I have a different name?

In all honesty, I never really got the hyphenated last name thing. I know a pediatrician here who uses a hyphenated name. I think Yankees do it a lot. THAT makes sense. But me? A Southern mom?

Contrary to what this sounds like, I'm not mad or contemplating divorce or turning into an Anglophile. I just...am startled every time someone calls me by this name, after 22 years. It's not mine. There's a piece of paper on my refrigerator with a quote from a website I can't remember (which you should visit when my friend Brad gets back from vacation and reminds me what it is and I tell you) that says, "We forget at times (isn't it funny how life sneaks up & steals your memory of who you want to be?)"

Sorry, but I'm done. And as soon as I have a spare hour, I'm going to go to the courthouse and find out what's involved and pay the fee and have my real name and my married name, hyphenated, made my legal name. A concession to my children.

It's entirely possible I've lost my mind, but this just feels right. No idea why, but this is done.

Maybe it will be a good day and they'll be giving away free coffee pots for people who change their names. Sort of like opening up a new bank account!

17 comments:

Governor Jen said...

Good for you. I really do think you have a little "inner-Yankee" in you. :-)

I kept both names, but with a space, no hyphen. It just felt better to me than losing my name. My family thought I was nuts. I do think it's funny you mention this, because my 4-year old just realized I have "two last names" and thinks it's a riot. Every night he asks me what my full name is and giggles and giggles.

hswilkinson said...

I feel ya. I've thought about doing the same thing, but not hypenating. Just going back to MY name.

Comet Girl said...

As a member of one of the first families of our county to another, I feel ya sister. Nobody knows my husband's people. They ALL know mine. There's a reason our father's meet every few weeks for lunch. To talk about how their families founded the area and how awesome we are ;o)

Country Girl said...

EXACTLY, Comet Girl! The road's a little easier when it's been paved first.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I can't recall how it is in the US, but in Canada, a married woman can actually use both her married name and her maiden name, in any combination she wishes. I use my maiden name at work (including for my paycheck), but my married name for everything else. Hopefully it's an easy switch!

Indigo said...

Good for you! Just like Jen, I have two last names with a space, no hyphen. To make it even more confusing, only on legal docs and my business card (okay, and Facebook) do I use both names. At work, I use my maiden name because it's the name of my company and I was there prior to getting married. At home and everywhere else I use my hubs name -- and his name is so much more harder to spell and pronounce, even his own family can't decide between two different pronunciations. Anyhow, good for you! And Happy Mingling!

melscolorfulmetaphors said...

I actually made my maiden name a second middle name. But people try and hyphenate it all the time, which causes trouble. Usually with the IRS. Good luck!

Kylie w Warszawie said...

I feel you. My husband mother is a teacher. I vopunteer teach. I specifically request that my students call me by my first name. It's just that when i hear my last name, in that setting, i think of my MIL.

Country Girl said...

That one, too. Every time someone calls me "Mrs Cruce" I inform them: "I married Mrs Cruce's son. Call me Mz Country Girl."

City Girl said...

I have been here, done this, three times.

The first time I hyphenated.

The second time I hyphenated, but never changed from my maiden name on credit cards, leases, etc.

The third time I got married at 35, and I didn't bother with his last name. It is an extremely common (in these parts) last name, and there are already two or three "CityGirl Jonses" in town. They don't need another.

On the other hand, I'm the only person for at least 50 miles with this particular ethnic name, so EVERYBODY knows me by my "unusual" maiden name.

Hub doesn't care, and if he did, I don't know that I would have married him....

Baby Boy said...

I've heard this argument before...

"It’s only your name that is my enemy;
You are yourself, not even a Montague.
What's “Montague?” It is not a hand, or a foot,
Or an arm, or a face, or any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
Would smell as sweet if it had any other name.
So Romeo, if he wasn’t called “Romeo,” would
Retain that dear perfection which he has
Without that title. Romeo, throw your name away;
And for that name, which isn’t part of you,
Take all of me." SHAKESPEARE

Lumpy said...

Way to go "country girl"! I hate that it is so "Southern" to change your name. I liked my rather unusual, quirky maiden name, and considered the hyphen thing, but then my last name would be almost every letter in the alphabet. I still introduce myself with the "lump" maiden name. Just makes it easier to jog memories, being that did not get married until I was 42!

kathi said...

I remember having a conversation forever ago with a college roommate about whether we would keep our own names when we got married. She said, either way, it's still some man's name, your father's or your husband's.

I said I'd probably keep my own name; I didn't. I am just petty enough to enjoy when people look surprised to see that I am Asian when they meet me for the first time, since my married surname is Wilson :)

I think you should use whatever name makes you feel most "you" and who cares if anyone thinks you've lost your mind!

:: late to the Mingle! ::

Donna in AL said...

I had my husband's name while my children were small. When they were in their teens, I started using my maiden name all the time but had not had it legally changed. I went to the courthouse and told them I wanted my last name back. I was informed I had to have a lawyer file a request, the judge has to sign it, if he agrees, then it is recorded and legal. I said: this is the name on my birth certificate, the name I was born with and I have to pay a lawyer and have a judge decide if I can have my own last name back!!

Like you guys, my name is well known where I live and my family has been in this county since at least the 1700's and I wanted it back since I have been divorced.

Country Girl said...

You mean, when you get divorced you can't automatically change your name? Well, I never. The only reason I'd ever get divorced, as we mention every now and then, is that then...we'd each get every other weekend OFF! Two full nights without a disturbance!

Mrs Zeee said...

I hear ya! I am a Yankee and I changed my name kicking and screaming all the way to the Social Security office. The one consolation I have is that I made my maiden name my middle name so at least I retained part of my given nomer. GO ON GIRL!
(and while you're at it, add something cool like "van" in your name so you can wear a cape or a leather vest and get away with it)

Lora said...

Us real Yanks (not me, but I wish I would've done this) don't even change our last names at all!

Most of my friends are still carrying around the name they were born with, and they just fight about what last name to give the kids.

I always say that if I ever make it big in life, I'm doing under my first and middle names. Because that is truly ME

Lora Neely. Watch for it, it may be in lights sometime soon!