Her Bad Mother

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's In A Name?

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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, that was the only reason I changed my name - so that kids and us would have the same name. If we hadn't planned on having kids, I probably wouldn't have gotten married, never mind even considering changing it.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did indeed change my name. Partially because I have a sort of strange family name history like you do, partially because I wanted to share a name with my kids, but mainly because names do mean a lot. I agreed to sacrifice my maiden name knowing that sacrifices of this nature were going to be required of everyone in this family.

I have been, however, honored by my ancestors with the ability to make this decision on my own.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Meryl said...

Oh, the name game. It's hard to find a good solution.

When I got married I wanted to keep my name, but I had hang-ups about being the only person in my family with my last name. I spent most of my time growing up with my mom, step-father, and my brother (step-father's son) who all had the same last name, so I was sensitive about being the one who didn't "belong".

In the end we decided to both hyphenate. We're the C-A's legally, although for most everyday use Sweet Husband uses just "A" and I use just "C". When we have a kiddo, he or she will be hyphenated (with a very short first name, I think!). As for what he or she decides to do upon marriage and all of that....well, I've decided that's not my problem!

12:37 PM  
Blogger Miss Britt said...

I took my husband's name, because it was my son's name. For the same reasons you described.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I did not change my name. I have done many, many things with this name that I am proud of and I wanted to keep it so I did. My husband told me he'd have been shocked had it been any other way.

My kids are too young (one's still cooking) to realize our last names are different. But, I grew up in a blended family where we had different last names and that was okay. We were never less of a family. I hope my kids will be proud of me and my name as I am. If they ask why it's different, I will just tell them I had this name before I met their dad and though it was good enough. Because it is.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husband's name for many reasons. One is that I no longer wanted a connection to my surname and thus MY father. But also I was adamant that our children have the same last name as myself. There was a time where marriage was not on the table. We would be together of course but not necessarily married. When children were brought into the equation I knew I wanted us all to have the same last name, thus the need for marriage in my opinion.

My mother had a different last name than I did as a result of divorce and remarriage. I didn't really think that it was a big deal growing up but it sure would have saved me a lot of explaining if we'd all had the same last name.

I thought that it was me simply wanting things to be easier for my children but maybe that insistence runs deeper and says more about being a child of divorce than anything.

I think it is by far a personal decision. One that each woman makes on her own and for different reasons.

I do find it interesting how your name can change and seem so odd but one day it just doesn't anymore. I remember right after I got married thinking that my new married name just sounded so odd, wrong even. Now when I think about my maiden name I have the same feelings. It's all a matter of getting used to it I suppose.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I took my husbands name. He was very adamant about it when we got married, I didn't want to do it. We were not planning on having kids and I had always been a Hardin. But he doesn't ask for much, and this was important to him. So I did it. I kept my middle name too so the Hardin is lost for us, but we keep our family names alive through our children, choosing special middle names that have family significance.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ohhh this is lovely to read. i had a difficult time with this decision. when i was younger i swore i would never change my name. when my husband and i got married, i gave him three choices: he could change his name to mine, we could both hyphenate, or we could choose a new name for both of us. since he wouldn't even *consider* any of these options, i squared my jaw and insisted on keeping my name.

we'll be married four years this month. earlier this year, because of some issues we were working through and because we have decided to embark on the adventure of children (well, trying to anyway), he asked me again if i would consider changing my name. this time i acquiesced. i admit that it's been on my mind since the day we got married, and i'm proud to be part of this new family in the same way that i was proud to be part of my family when i was a child, just as you describe it.

but it's hard, too. it's hard because so many people were so shocked and yes, offended by my decision NOT to change my name, and i had to stand by that decision. it's hard because other married women i know who have not changed their names now look at me like i'm a sellout to patriarchal oppression the world over. it's hard because i want this so badly and get such a thrill out of being called "mrs.", and yet i still think of myself as the person i was, with the name i had as a child and shared with my family.

i think that part of me needed to prove that i could be married and still keep my original name. now i feel like i did it, i proved it (to no one but myself of course, but still) and so i can be done with it now.

sorry for the rant. thanks for giving me a place to rant :)

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm engaged, keeping my name. This matters to me because it's all girl cousins on my Dad's side of the family, so if I don't hang onto it, that'll pretty much will be the end of the M's - none of my other girl cousins care enough to hang on to it. Any kids we have will also have my last name for the same reason, with their Dad's name as a middle name. If they want to swap out at some point, they can. I remember figuring this whole process out as a little girl - that I would be expected to change my name, that there were no boys to continue on the M- name, and telling my Mom, "Well, I'll just have to find a boy with at least one brother so that I can use my name!" And I did. How weird to have a plan I concocted at age 8pan out.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going through a related dilemma right now. I am divorced from my children's father. I had taken my ex's name as soon as we got married (and eagerly, I might add, having grown up with the initials P.U.)

I am now engaged to a wonderful man, who would love it if I took his name. But that would give me a different last name from my kids'.

Either way, there are going to be two different surnames in our family - I'm the only wildcard.

I thought for a long time about keeping my name the same as my kids'...but that would mean keeping the same last name as my ex, which seems vaguely disrespectful to my future husband.


12:45 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

I did not change my name. I like my name and did not see any reason to change it just because I was getting married.

When we had our son last year, we made his middle name my last name. So we do not have the same "last name" but we still share a name. This was the decision that works for us.

I don't see anything wrong with a child seeing two strong, independent parents who are proud of their own names. I am a feminist and feel very strongly that women should be able to keep (or change!) their names as they see fit, without judgement. I think this is a great example to show a kid!

I guess my point is that you should do whatever feels right to YOU, regardless of what others seem to expect.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No dilemma for me at all. I married at 19, and couldn't wait to have a last name that was common and could be spelled with no problem. My family name before that was equated with the town drunk, was 12 letters long, impossible to spell and one which I gladly walked away from.

When it's my daughter's turn, I hope she has different feelings about it. But I understand the rationale behind wanting to have everyone with the same name. You had a name you obviously honored.

A friend got married at 19 and her husband took her last name. For much the same reason I took my husband's. He respected his wife's family and tradition more than the one he came from. He never regretted it.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

Very interesting, because I've just recently been thinking of changing mine.

I kept my name, mostly because I was a full of it nineteen year old when I got married. I though it would never matter. Or that giving it up, meant giving me up in some way. My last name, was just picked out of a hat as well. My dad's family immigrated (escaped) from Poland and when they finally made it here, they became as American as possibly. But when I think of us, my little family that my husband and I have made, I kinda want to have the same last name as them. I'll probably change it soon.

But I will be bringing Alex's birth certificate and passport to the airport with me today. Thanks for this, because I never would have even worried about it. Maya is old enough to say, this is my mom, if it came up, but the baby, not so much. And with black hair and brown eyes, people could question if I am his mom.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

First off, let me say- you are SUCH a good writer.
And yes, I took my husband's name. I fell in love with him and his family whereas my family, the one I grew up in, was nothing to want to be named for. Believe me.
And...my husband's last name is so cool and it goes so well with my first name that people, upon meeting me (I have the look of old hippie about me because, well, I am one), think I surely made it up. Perhaps while doing LSD under the moonlight.
And, if we create our own realities, perhaps I did make it up.
Mary Moon

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not common for women in the county where I come from to change their last name after marriage. So I didn't do that either. And honestly, I don't really get it. Why should a woman change her name to her husband's name? What about her past, the memories associated with that name? How about her professional life and accomplishments with that name?

Are men ready to make the same sacrifice? My husband has long and hard to pronounce and write family name. I really really don't want my children to have to go through the same difficulties with their last name as he does. But any time I bring up the idea of him taking my last name, he completely rejects the idea. He doesn't even want to think about it.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Steph(anie) said...

Coming from an academic background I can see how you might want to keep your name. My aunt (a professor) kept hers as she was published under her maiden name. I changed mine, I was young and as yet, unaccomplished. My husband and I had a child prior to our marriage, so I was aquiring his and my daughter's name. Also my name was attached to my father, as another commenter mentioned and I have no need of him. My mother had since changed her name after remarriage, so I was attached to no one I care about with that old name. It is a very individual decision for anyone.

12:56 PM  
Blogger hschinske said...

I took my husband's name partly because it seemed more practical, but I do use my maiden name as a middle name so that people who know me by my maiden name will have a clue who I am if they run into my work later. It was a tough decision and I really could have gone either way on it. My husband also offered to change his name to mine, but his family is smaller, and his name is less common, and I didn't think he should give it up.

I hate it when people assume I must want to be called Mrs. since I took my husband's name. Um, doesn't Ms. exist precisely BECAUSE you don't HAVE to know whether I'm married or whether my name is the same as my husband's?!

I think the border guard was undertrained, or being a doofus, or something. Going by my kids' school directories, more kids have parents with different names than not, these days.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't really speak to kids, but I can tell you about what influenced my decision, and my sisters.

I changed my last name when I got married - I had what I considered a horrible last name, prone to 'corrections' by people/institutions/software corporations' spellcheckers that just assumed I had spelt it incorrectly. I hated it, I hated the teasing I had endured as a child, and was reasonably content to become one of the 47.3 million Salazars in the world.

My sister kept the same last name, because 1) her husband's last name was even weirder, and 2) she was already published under that name, and that published identity was important to her. I don't know what they're planning on doing when they have kids, but I wouldn't be surprised if they gave all the kids HER last name (yes, it's that bad).

My first publication didn't come until right around the time of my marriage, so I just had them put my changed name on it. But I can say that if I had published before I got married, I probably wouldn't have changed it either.

I don't know what GeekBaby would think about it though. He's too young to express opinions, save via pooping.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kept my name because I was 32 when I got married and it seemed silly to change it. I have gone back and forth about changing it now that I have a son, for reasons like your experience illustrate, it might be easier. But it's annoying that I would have to.

Now that I am writing in a public format, it is useful that my name is different for anonymity purposes. I would rather protect my son's and my husband's anonymity to the extent that it is possible, and having a different name helps immensely with this. So now, I don't think I will change it.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Briya said...

Well, I had the kid first... but he had his father's name. I went ahead and changed mine, so we could be a matched set.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been married for about a month and am going to change my last name this afternoon. It seems appropriate to be reading this post today. We are now each others family.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

ecause of the end of the family line, I have kept my name, but the kids have my last name as well.

As a former elementary school secretary, I suggest either changing your name or chaging the kids names, it will make things so much easier down the road. That boarder guard will be the secretary, the principal, the teacher, it will be a big mess in school.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husband's name, which was not an entirely easy thing to do because my name went from the very normal Kohl to - get ready for it - Butz. Yup, my new joke-inducing last name sounds like the word for people's rear ends. It took some getting used to, believe me.

I did it mainly for the reasons you mentioned - to be a whole, unified family. I want to have the same last name as my husband and my kids. And frankly, I am so thrilled and honored to be included in the Butz family (they are awesome!) that the name no longer sounds laughable to me.

Our culture happens to expect that the woman take her husband's name. Some may object that this is another patriarchical way of placing women beneath men. But if that is sexist, then why wouldn't the opposite be sexist as well? No, I am fine with accepting the norm of my culture; I know that I am respected as an equal person in my marriage.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never gave a second thought to changing my name when I got married 8 years ago. I never really regretted it until just recently. Although it is very convenient to have the same last name as my kids, But in the last year or so I have been considering changing my name to a hyphenated version of my maiden and married names. I want to honour that part of my heritage. I have yet to make the decision to go ahead and legally change it. But I've given myself permission to try it out in my head and see how I feel about it. Of course it will make many things more complicated, having my name different than the rest of my family. I"m still weighing the options. It doesn't seem like there is any right answer, and even people who are happy with their decision to change or not change are quick to recognize the drawbacks of each scenario. It's a tough one! Good luck!

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never gave a second thought to changing my name when I got married 8 years ago. I never really regretted it until just recently. Although it is very convenient to have the same last name as my kids, But in the last year or so I have been considering changing my name to a hyphenated version of my maiden and married names. I want to honour that part of my heritage. I have yet to make the decision to go ahead and legally change it. But I've given myself permission to try it out in my head and see how I feel about it. Of course it will make many things more complicated, having my name different than the rest of my family. I"m still weighing the options. It doesn't seem like there is any right answer, and even people who are happy with their decision to change or not change are quick to recognize the drawbacks of each scenario. It's a tough one! Good luck!

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OH, but I also wanted to add that I do not think worse of women and families who choose differently than I did. And if I lived in a culture where the husband usually took the wife's name, that's would have been fine too.

1:17 PM  
Blogger All Things BD said...

I took my husband's name because I considered it a symbol of us coming together as a unit. However, I was but a babe, so I had no professional ties with my maiden name. That might have changed my outlook on it.

On the other hand, my maiden name was Jones, and what could possibly be more boring and generic (besides Smith)? I'm happy to have something unusual that sets me apart now. Or at least identifies me as that irritating girl with the unpronouncable name.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For personal and professional reasons, I have always kept my own name. When the baby was born, we included my surname as one of her middle names so that it appears on her official documentation and she has the option, if she so chooses, of going by some sort of hyphenated name.

1:18 PM  
Blogger kaila said...

I took my ex-husband's name without even thinking twice. (my maiden name was Smith - boring) I wish I had kept it though. I didn't change it back when we divorced because of my son. I wanted to share the name with him. The dilemma is the man in our lives who wants me to take his name. That would leave my son the odd man out. I am torn.

1:20 PM  
Blogger heels said...

My husband encouraged me to keep my name because it's a lot more "unique" than his (which is, admittedly, pretty dead-common), but I really wanted us to be identified to all as FAMILY in all respects. I had no hesitation.

I have some friends who decided that they would combine their last names. So now, instead of Winter and Smith, they are Wintersmith. Our names would never have combined so nicely, but I do kind of like the idea of choosing a new family name upon new family creation. Of course, that means that both people have to go through the nonsense of the name-change paperwork...

1:21 PM  
Blogger Holly {ArtistMotherTeacher} said...

I took my husband's name. Long before we were married—or even dating for that matter—his family called me "the lost W——. The considered me a part of the family. When we got married it was almost as if I was found—now a part of the family for real.

That makes me happy.

1:21 PM  
Blogger ScientistMother said...

I changed my name when I was married. It didn't much to the mister at all, but he was adamant that any future children would not be hypenated and would be his name...

I think you need a letter from the father regardless if you have a passport or the same name.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Sass Pizzazz said...

I'm 23, unmarried, but I've thought about this a fair amount. I'm moderately feminist, extremely independent, and on top of that I simply like my name. I don't really want to give up any part of what I consider to be my identity.

I've thought of several solutions, but none of them seem satisfactory... I'm hesitant to just keep my name because that will make me odd man out in my family once I have children. I don't want to hyphenate because it would be so cumbersome, and then do the kids have hyphenated last names? What happens if two hyphenated children grow up and get married to each other? It seems like a mess. I also realize that I can keep my maiden name as a middle name, but then I'll have to either a)have 4 names, which seems like just as much of a pain as hyphenating or b)give up my middle name, which I'm also pretty attached to.

For someone who probably won't be getting married for several years, I've obviously thought about this too much. Ultimately, if I end up marrying the guy I'm currently with, I'll probably just take his name for simplicity's sake. It's a pretty rare (but easy to spell!) name, and I love his family, and I have a brother to carry on my family name, so I guess that's that. But still... I'd miss it.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Vered said...

I kept my name. It's part of my identity and my Dutch heritage. When my daughters were old enough to ask about it, I explained. They are proud of me for keeping my identity. They can't wait to visit Holland.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Jenny Grace said...

Well huh. Gabriel and I don't have the same last name because his father and I are not, and never were married. And it never occurred to me that was a problem. Surely the border guard is familiar with our modern landscape of differing family dynamics??

1:24 PM  
Blogger LD said...

I changed my name.
My old last name was Jones and I was so sick of the jokes.
But, now we're the "Adams Family" so you can't win. And who hyphenates Jones? It's so common.
If I had an attachment to my last name I would have kept it.
It just wasn't an issue with me.
But ...
I used to babysit kids whose last name was different than their mom's. I remember when they figured it out (around age 5) and it was just one of those things. They asked why. They played around and would call themselves by their mom's last name.
And, then they accepted it.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't have a choice. My old last name was 10 letters long and my husbands was 12. Hypenating would have been a disaster. I never even considered keeping my last name.

I wanted the same name as my new family. And I love my new family. And I didn't want to hypenate (ugh, so much work) and then take the option away from my daughter to hypenate. Even though unless she marries someone with a really short last name, she'll fall into the same spot I fell into!

I think it largely depends on when you get married too. I knew a woman who recently got married (she's in her mid thirties) and she kept her last name. It seemed logical, because she'd been in the work force for so long and she'd accomplished so much under that name. Don't know what they'll do about the babies though.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husband's last name even though it is very uncommon and I have to spell and pronounce it to everyone. I did it for him as a way to show him how much I loved him. I also shared my maiden name with a serial killer who roamed the area I live in before I was born (no relation) so I was also a little glad to be rid of it. I wanted to share a name with my children and am proud to this day to share my name with my boys and my future little one.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Burgh Baby said...

I changed my name so fast heads would spin. I wanted to sever that tie, and quick. My husband had a much more fun last name anyway.

You are SO NOT KIDDING about border guards. I am forever getting into one-sided arguments with them. (Hello, I am too scared to argue back. I just take the abuse.)

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did eventually change my name, although I kept my maiden name for work purposes just because changing it would've involved a lot of pain in the butt paperwork I didn't want to do. I also publish my books under my maiden name, so now I basically have two completely different names, both of which feel like me. When I sign books I'm supposed to sign Arnold, when I sign checks/credit card slips I'm supposed to sign Tull, and I swear I mess it up half the time.

It's totally confusing (and I don't recommend this), but I didn't really have a hard time getting used to and identifying with my married name. If that's the main reason for you wanting to keep your maiden name, just give it a few months using your married name and see how it feels. It'll probably be a lot easier than you think.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

I got lucky in that I never had a middle name and my maiden name actually sounds more like a FIRST name than a LAST name. So, I legally had my maiden name changed to my last name.

I made the decision to take his because I wanted my kids and I to have the same last name, that's all.

As for borders, dude, they did the same thing to me once. it just went a lot more horrifyingly. Like, I was CRYING before it was over. I won't clog your comment box with the story, but yeah...I can SO relate.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents were divorced and my dad dead and the rest of THAT family far away.
I held no real attachment to my maiden name. I was then quite happy to take my husbands.

And with kids it has made things simple..though even that would not stop the border asking for a letter if I took my kids with passports without their dad.

However...my son's FIRST name IS my maiden name.

How cool is that?

1:36 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

I am the daughter of someone who's mom didn't take the name, and I saw the issues at the border with that one, so that was part of my decision. I also saw how much it was an issue for my father, who was proud of his family, that my mom didn't seem to want to fully be part of it. Though there is a whole lot there, including they didn't marry until I was 9, and divorced when I was 25. And that I had neither last name it turns out.

I did take my husband's name, and there are days I don't like being part of the larger family, but I love that our little family is just us. I wasn't sure I wanted to do it originally, since professionally it was hard to change. It was part of a compromise for me to do it, but I am glad that I did. Not only for the ease of international travel, but because our family unit is special to me. Even the dog.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm having the same conundrum right now. I got married about half a year ago, and at the time I just kept my own name because it was a stressful time and I couldn't deal with anymore paperwork, but now that there is talk of having kids, it's a whole other story. I think what I've more or less settled on now is to keep my name, take his as well, but not hyphenate. Then when we have kids, they will use only his name.

It's tricky, isn't it?

1:37 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Good post. It is difficult, isn't it? I was married at 33 snd had built a career around my maiden name...So, I just kept my maiden name as a middle name. So, I have 4 names on my ID (first,middle, middle-maiden, and married last) No hyphens. Hyphens seem to stick them together in a complicated fashion. I can pick and choose names for the situation. It has worked very well.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Quebec women legally *can't* change their names to their husbands so I wonder how that works at border crossings?

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I changed mine. Because otherwise I was risking stark raving madness in one more area, and really, who needs that?

I had my daughter in April 2000, and got married in October 2000. The sleep deprivation and freak-out-ed-ness might have altered this somewhat, but I would swear that I had to explain to at least 4,000 people in the hospital that, no, I did not want her to have my last name, I wanted her to have her father's last name. Yes, I know we're not married. No, I do not want to leave his name off the birth certificate just in case. No, I -- you know what? Bite me.

So within days of our wedding, I was at the Social Security office to change my name. I took my maiden name as my middle name, dropped the middle name altogether, and took on my husband's last name. No hyphens, because I'm not much one for punctuation in the midst of a name (though if I could have had an umlaut, I would). My vague plan was to finish my doctorate in forensic psych and practice under my maiden name, which is hugely more common than my husband's freakish Dutch moniker. Instead I got lazy and just work under my married name, too.

One of my close friends kept her maiden name, and her kids - 8 and 4 - don't much care at all. They know they're the S---- family, and that Mama's last name is different.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Leanne said...

I kept my name and use a hyphenated name when I'm involved with my kid's sometimes. My kids fully understand what's going on. Um, also don't rush anything. Now that my kids can talk they just tell the border guards I'm their Mom and that their Dad knows where they are and it's no problem. And I cross border shop with them ALOT! Don't sweat it, it's short term.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Mind of MadMan said...

Change name or include wipes, adult type for the rest of your trips...

1:42 PM  
Blogger graham's mom said...

I am delurking to comment on this, because (as is clear from so many others who already commented) it is such a big issue. I struggled with the decision for months, and here's the solution we came up with:

I changed my last name to his.
My maiden name became my middle name, and my maiden name is also my son's middle name.
And the kicker is: I made my husband change his middle name to my maiden name too.

So we are ALL the Sarah, Joe, Graham S-- W--'s. Not hyphenated, not confusing. But at least my husband had to go through somewhat the same decision-making process that I did. And, to be honest, the same nightmare of credit card and checking account and social security admin issues.

His mom is still mad at me for "making" him given up his middle name. Ffaw!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Mouse said...

Our situation is a bit different, as you know, so this sort of situation has been on our radar from the beginning.

Scooter is fully Scooter [middlename] [mylastname] [Trillian'slastname]. She kind of wanted to hyphenate, I did not. If Scooter wants to, he can pull my last name from being his second middle name to hyphenate it.

I have made a point of telling him our names many times. He's so literal that if I didn't, he would think our given names are Mama and Mimi. Once he got first names, I added last names, so he understands that I have a different last name.

When we travel as a family, we bring his birth certificate (with both of our names on it), the adoption decree, and our Canadian marriage certificate. We have only had to show them to someone once. When the family is split up, the parent with Scooter has a letter signed by the other authorizing all travel and medical care for a specified period of time. We probably should have these notarized, but we haven't gone that far yet.

Right now, since I'm in Canada and they're back home, Trillian has a "just in case" travel letter so that she could bring Scooter up here if they needed to come to me. It's become habit for us.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Mama Smurf said...

I really wanted to keep my last name. I HATE my married last name....as in - I actually questioned whether or not I wanted to marry my husband because I hate his last name so much. I gave up my nice ethnic sounding maiden name for a hillbilly red neck FUGLY name!

I still hate it...but I wanted the same last name as my kids. Ah well...I suppose there's worse things.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

I changed my name without a thought about it. My family name had very bad associations with it to me.

On the other hand, my mom did not change her name back after she divorced my bio-dad. She had the same bad associations, but she wanted to have the same last name as my brother and I. She got remarried a few years later but still waited to change her last name from my family name until my brother and I were adults.

It definitely made it easier for us, not for her.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did it backwards

Married young. Took my husband's name. Seven years later, moving to new area, ready to launch career, decide I want my old (easy) name back.

Hire lawyer to change name back to birth name. Use birth name for a few weeks, shocked when I realize it doesn't feel comfortable to me at all. It's not ME anymore. Husband confesses that while he supported my choice, he's not comfortable with us having different names either.

Call lawyer AGAIN. Pay to change name to husband's. Many years later, children arrive on scene. Glad we share a name. Oldest son has my birth name as his middle name.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a very bizarre name story.
I changed my name with my first marriage, but when that didn't work out I changed my name back to my maiden name.

I then had a son and gave him that maiden name.

Then I got remarried, and had a second son. Both my husband and I agreed that it was best if I gave him my maiden name as well, so that the boys could have the same last name as me. He did it unselfishly so they would never feel any different.

and now I am lobbying for him to change his name to ours. :)

it was important for me to have the same last name as my kids, just so I would never have to explain myself or my situation to anyone.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat as you. Befuddled and confused. And still stuck undecided.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't change my name for many years. Had no intention of ever doing so, but when I was six months pregnant with my first child I had this crazy, irrational desire to change my name because I couldn't bear the thought of that little baby card they stick in the hospital bassinet reading a DIFFERENT last name. I chalked it up to hormonal delusions but immediately changed my name.

And that child, who is now a 6 year old boy, is OBSESSED with our family name. He takes great pride in telling everyone how we are a family and this is our family name. I also have a 4 year old daughter who couldn't give a flying fig, but there ya go; the unpredictable nature of children.

I changed it, I don't regret it, we are our own unit. And the name has no historical significance or legacy as my husband was adopted by a step-dad who later split. As the only male child he was the only one to retain it.

We're creating our own legacy.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

FYI Jasper has my maiden name as one of his middle names (yes, one of. He has two.)

1:56 PM  
Blogger Everydaytreats said...

I'm of latin american heritage so I use that naming convention - so instead of "losing" my maiden name I just add my husband's last name to the end of my name. It's less losing yourself to marriage and more acknowledging that new part of your identity - your new family unit.

FYI - I use my "maiden" name as my middle name and my "Husband's" as my last name. It works great. I use my middle/maiden name online, so very few strangers actually know my children's real names. It works great.

Good luck with your decision.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I changed my middle name to my maiden name, and also used it for my children's middle names. I think it is a nice tie to my family of origin, but honestly, as time goes by the name issue matters less and less to me. We are simply the M--- family and I am quite happy with that.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husband's name when I married, but it was 1962 and that was the thing to do. Hyphenations were barely beginning back then. Besides, my maiden name was Johnson, so blah, and my first name is Judy, so with Johnson it was just too cute, and I was happy to become an E----.

When we divorced in 1979, I kept his name "because of the kids" but in reality because I was lazy about all the paperwork, and wasn't that wild about being a Johnson again anyway, what with having been an E--- for almost as long as I'd been a Johnson.

During subsequent post-divorce battles, I used to hate his name and all it represented and hated being called by his name, and would often think "if I'd remarried, I'd have a different name anyway".

The youngest turned 18, everyone got lives of their own, and here I am today, roughly at retirement age, and still an E----. Now I like to think maybe it annoys him. LOL.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husbands name. Mostly because I didn't want there to be confusion with our kids, house, bills or anything else that we share. Also because going from a complicated name that I always had to spell to a name that everyone already knows sounded easier. Beware though, the process is annoying.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

I married when I was thirty. I have a Dutch last name, so it's Van .....
So when I married I tried his last name, but it sounded terribly WRONG (partly because it sounded NOTHING like my old one, and partly because Mrs Evans is/was my mother-in-law)
so when I had to go through the Permanent Resident rigmarole, I quietly went back to both. (So I'm hyphenated.)

Actually, both of my kids have asked why my name is different, and they both think it's kind of neat that my name is not the same.

By the by, those parental letters? Are HORRIBLE. While I understand WHY Canada asks for them, I still feel demeaned and well...small, having to prove that my husband said me traveling was okay.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I thought about keeping my maiden name because it was easy and my married name gets spelled wrong and said wrong all the time. Also my name had a lovely meter to it.

But I changed my name anyway, because I'm also old-fashioned. And also when my in-laws ask why our kids are mostly named after my side of the family I can say well, they all have your last name.

2:05 PM  
Blogger O'Neal (The Woman In Charge Around Here) said...

I did the same thing with the hyphen, but only use it when signing legal papers. Otherwise I just go by hubby's last name. It WAS a bit of an ordeal though when we had a baby out of wedlock, and hubby was ONLY 17 requiring his MOTHER to sneak down to SS office in the hospital and sign the birth certificate to make SURE our son had his father's last name - whether we ended up married or not!

Good thing we got married, (and my parents removed the restraining order - ha!) or THAT would have been a headache!

2:07 PM  
Blogger Nissa Nicole said...

Hi Catherine, love your blog, don't usually comment but this one is something I feel rather strongly about.

I grew up in a family with three last names: my mom and dad were married and divorced, so my mother and I shared the same last name; my brother was my mother's son from a different relationship whom she gave her MAIDEN name (even though she herself did not still use it) and my three youngest siblings from my mother's last relationship (non-marital) with their Father's name.

In other words, I'm the oldest child and I shared a last name with my Mom, my brother's last name is my Mom's maiden name, and my three youngest siblings have their father, my Mother's latest relationships, last name. Utter confusion, constantly.

Obviously, this situation is not ordinary, but the point of this is basically, to me, first names are our identity, and last names are for organization. I took my husband's name without a thought. I'm glad to know our kids won't have to explain it.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I'm so glad this topic came up. I'm not married yet, but I plan on keeping my name when we tie the knot. I'm writing under that name and, anyway, it's MY name. We've agreed that hyphenating our kids' last name is the best thing to do in that situation because we want their names to be a reflection of both of us (and it may help us avoid issues with travel and whatnot). Luckily, we both have very short, one-syllable last names.

I've been wondering lately if having a hyphenated name would be hard for them. What if they want to hyphenate their children's names, too? Are we going to end up with a pile of over-hyphenated freaks as descendants?

I'm so glad some of you have chalked that issue up to "not my problem." It makes me feel better because that's the only reasonable conclusion I've come to in this situation. Why's it gotta be so COMPLICATED? :^)

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took me two years to change my name and I finally did it when my newborn was called "Baby S" (after my last name) in the hospital. It is a law in our state to identify the baby by the mother's last name when they are born, but it felt wrong to me. All along our baby should have been "Baby M" and not "Baby S". So that's what prompted me to go through all that fun, fun, paperwork.
In the end, it was worth it because we do feel more of a family unit. And as a side-note, my last name has been my stepfather's last name since I was adopted by him at 16, so in many ways, it wasn't as meaningful to me. However, I did keep it as my middle name just so I can still be identified by those that knew me "then".

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just married my husband, and he has sole custody of his daughters.

It was very, very important to me that we share his last name. I not only wanted my last name to be the same as my husband's, but also the girls. Their mother has changed her name back to her maiden, and it just seemed important for us to be a family. For me, that meant sharing the same name.

It helps that I wasn't attached to my last name, and replaced my middle with my maiden.

Different strokes for different folks, right?

2:15 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I kept my name. I think I decided that I would keep my name when I was in kindergarten.

Interestingly, our son has MY last name, which really throws people for a loop. We had decided if we had a boy it would have my last name, and if a girl, my husband's.

To get even more complicated, our coming child will have my husband's last name. My husband doesn't want to hurt his parents' feelings, and I have a suspicion his feelings would be hurt, as well. Honestly, I don't care much about hurting his parents' feelings (I'm a mean, nasty person), but I do care about his (not as mean and nasty where he is concerned).

I know it seems convoluted and bizarre, but I'm just stubborn enough to pull it off.

2:19 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

For me, I changed my name to his so that when we had a family we would all have the same last name. Five kids later, I'm glad we all share the same last name and we are The Hall Family!

2:22 PM  
Blogger Chibi said...

If we get married, I'll take his name. I know my reasoning is a little silly/old fashioned, but it's how I feel and that makes it valid, right? lol

I have a different father than my siblings. Growing up, I was the only Mylastname in a family of 5. My mom went on to remarry and then shared the same last name as my step-dad; my brother and sister stilled shared a last name. I've been the one-off my whole life and it's always bugged me a bit.

That being said, if we are going to be a family, I want that to be obvious: I want his last name. I want to finally feel like I "belong" somewhere after 30 years.

I'm lame, I know. ;)

2:22 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I'm confused. And a little concerned...were you traveling into Canada on Canadian passports, or were you traveling into Canada on US passports? (Forgive me, I'm not sure if you are an American living in Canada or a Canadian.) Was it a US border guard questioning you as you left the country or a Canadian questioning you as you came in?

I ask because I practice family law in the US in a city less than 40 miles from the Canadian border. On more than 1 occasion, I have had a father in a custody dispute threaten to cross into Canada with a child he does not have custody of. The border guards are not supposed to allow an American traveling with a child to cross the border without a notarized letter from the other parent, a death certificate of a deceased parent, a birth certificate showing no father was ever named, or a custody decree showing sole custody...I have more than once assured my worried clients that their ex will not be able to cross the border without the permission of both parents, and,reading this, I'm thinking that has been awfully Pollyanna-ish of me to think that the law would actually work the way it is intended.


I am sorry for the bureaucratic frustration/distress you experienced, and I'd like to tell you it would have gone the same way even if your baby and you were both named M~, but, who knows?

I kept my maiden name professionally (well, it's hyphenated, actually, on my law license), but all my other documents are my married name. It was important to me that we would all have the same name.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tricia said...

I took my husband's last name when we married. It never occurred to me to keep my maiden name or to hyphenate. I don't have any kids so it's not that - just that I didn't feel all that attached to my maiden name and didn't really feel strongly about keeping it - so much easier if you have the same name for things like banking.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I married at 22 at the beginning of my professional career. The fact that I hadn't made a "name" for myself and that my maiden name was very hard to spell and pronounce led me to change to my husband's name without much consideration of any other option. The irony is that my much simpler married name is still a challenge for people to spell and pronounce!

It is easier in many ways to have the same name as your children, but these days it's certainly not unusual not to. This is definitely one of those decisions where different solutions are right for different people. I would say it's certainly not a requirement to have the same name in order to feel like a family unit.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Even though I liked my maiden name a lot and was marrying down when it came to my husband's last name I took his name. Why? To avoid all the confusion. I think that hyphenating is long and confusing and that keeping my maiden name would have been confusing to the kids and everyone else. I am lazy, what can I say.

2:31 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

I love my name, I took his name for a test spin, it didn't feel right, so I went back to using my old name, then I played the hypen game, but again went back to my original name, then I decided I really love my name, became strangely attached to my name, so short of long: my daughter and I have different last names. Hasn't caused problems - yet - but I love my name, and I'm the one wearing it, so it stays.

If memory serves me correctly, in the car I yelled out a premature "nooooo" when you said "I think that I'm going to take Kyle's name". My reasons are my reasons, but with no special attachment (outside of academia), I think the change would prevent you from submitting to cavity searches and kidnapping charges at the border. The name change, and not travelling with me anymore - both will probably prevent any crazy border antics.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to keep my name and did for about two years. It was my name. I grew up with it. My husband never pressured me to change it, which is probably why I decided I would. So I decided to legally change my middle name to my maiden name and then took his name as my last. That way I don't have all that pretentious hyphenation.

2:35 PM  
Blogger MerrieW said...

I changed my name to my husband's, but put a lot of thought into it first. My family name died out with me. There are only girls in my generation, so no one to carry the name on. But my family has a tradition of using the mother's maiden name as the first son's first name.

Be aware though, if you change your name, it's a huge hassle. I had to send copies of my marriage license to certain account holders to get it all done.

My sister and her kids have different last names, for the moment. She's divorced from their father and remarried. He wants to adopt them at some point in the future, but at the moment their names are different too.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I changed my name to my husband's right after I got married...I got carried away by the excitement of it all...and also for the reasons you described with at the border...so my daughter and I have the same name...

As for the border crossing, even if your names were the same he would've still questioned you...a friend of mine often travels to the US with his son for hockey tournaments and he always got questioned on the way BACK into Canada...(which makes no sense...if he should be questioned when leaving Canada...) but anyway him and his spouse now always carry a letter that's been notarized just to avoid any hassles...

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I changed my name to my husband's right after I got married...I got carried away by the excitement of it all...and also for the reasons you described with at the border...so my daughter and I have the same name...

As for the border crossing, even if your names were the same he would've still questioned you...a friend of mine often travels to the US with his son for hockey tournaments and he always got questioned on the way BACK into Canada...(which makes no sense...if he should be questioned when leaving Canada...) but anyway him and his spouse now always carry a letter that's been notarized just to avoid any hassles...

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry for the double posting...

as an aside you could always hyphenate your name too.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

We did the same as Meryl - we both hyphenated, and our daughter has the same hyphenated last name. Pretentious, maybe, but it's the only solution I could live with politically. Honestly, I don't think there was even ever a discussion where my husband and I discussed my taking his name, we just discussed which order to put our last names in.

It has lead to two weird things, though. Baxter (the husband)goes by what is now half of his last name (his first name is Mike), which leads to some weird confusion as to who I'm referring to and whether his name is really "Baxter Baxter-Kauf" or something equally weird.

Second, Kiernan (daughter) has a name that is significantly longer than mine ever was - before marriage, my whole name was 13 letters long (and now 19). Hers is 24!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting remarried next weekend. My youngest daughter (shes 7) asked me what my new name would be. Martie Spurgeon. She was thrilled. She couldn't *wait* to learn to write HER new name. "Ummm, sweetie. Your name will stay the same. You will have your Daddy's last name until you marry." "UH! That is NOT fair!! YOU gave birth to me. MY name should match YOURS!"

Kids like to match. I kept my first husbands name specifically for that reason. That and I hated my maiden name (Robinson)...

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kept my name.

I polled a lot of my high school students who had different names then their parents about this, and the complete (100%) consensus was that it made no difference.

We made a deal that any boy children would have my husband's last name, and any girl children would have mine.

Since we have only boys, we are thinking of legally changing the boys names to have both our surnames, but not hyphenated - one would be like an extra middle name.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like you, I attempted to hyphenate for a while. I went to social security and just had them tack my husband's last name to the end of my given name. And I've regretted it ever since because that super long name became such a pain in the a**.

I won't give all the details, but I really wish I had just completely changed it up front. After a couple of years I lapsed into just using my husbands last name anyway. And, you know what? It really doesn't make any difference. I like my husband's last name and I like that we all have the same last name.

It's fine.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post -- long time reader, first time commenter! :)

Anyway, here's my name story. I Looooved my maiden name. It's a strong unique family name in which I have a great amount of pride. Grandparents on both sides of my family spent a lot of time researching genealogy and creating books for all the grandchildren that traced our roots and I think that gave me an extra tie to my name. It really does mean something to me. I then met and fell in love with a wonderful man with the last name of Smith...OMG, how boring and void of all meaning. The exact opposite of what I was used to in a name. (please, no offense to anyone named Smith but in the English language I think we can all agree that it is the default "common" name to use). After some intense discussion we decided that I would take his name but rather than "replace" my maiden or middle name, I just added a fourth name. Now, all of my official documents (passport, drivers' license, insurance...) have all the names. It also gives me the flexibility in various social and professional settings to use the name that fits the moment -- maiden, married, both. After almost 3 years of marriage, I'm finally getting used to the Smith and am more comfortable using it by itself (it is nice to not have to spell or pronounce it for anyone). I honestly think that I would have had an easier time with the whole name change thing if I'd married someone with a more unique/meaningful last name. Sort of like you mentioned that Connors was not a "true family name," that's how Smith feels to me. After such a strong tie to a name, it's hard to leave that behind. On the other hand, I am now almost 10 weeks pregnant with our first child and it feels good to be creating our own family identity with our own name! Lastly, I'm just grateful that we live societies where this naming issue is an option, even if it can be a huge pain in the butt!

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my husbands name mainly because I wanted to get rid of my ex's name - haha. My husband later adopted our son and Zac asked to change his last name to match ours. I think that it's important to kids to feel they are a family unit - a team if you will.

I have a friend who married a girl and they each kept their own last names. When the time came to have kids they made a decision to give each child a different last name to continue on the family lineage for each side of the family since they had boys. I think that's interesting really. Everyone seems to be comfortable with it.

I do understand having the last name being different though - mine was different from my sons for quite some time and it made me feel like I was a step mom - hahaha

3:09 PM  
Blogger clueless but hopeful mama said...

Thank you for writing this! I keep thinking about writing about it as well.

I didn't take my husband's name at first. I didn't like any of the options available and I really liked my last name (just the way it sounds, how easy it is for people to spell and pronounce). My husband's last name causes everyone to stumble; I'm constantly spelling it out for people.

We gave his last name to our daughter and I didn't like having that separation from the very beginning- at the hospital they kept getting our last names mixed up and even stopped me once because our last names didn't match. People didn't know how to address things " Husband and Daughter K________ and Wife M____". I felt I was always explaining it.

I changed my name one year after she was born. It was my gift to us as a family. My husband still doesn't totally get why I did it, and I love him all the more for it. And I really like writing "the K____ family" on things. It's easier. It feels the closest thing to right out of all the pretty sucky options.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

LawMommy - I'm a Canadian, and was travelling with Canadian passport (as was baby) BACK to Canada after two days in US.

I actually asked my travel agent, when I took Jasper to San Francisco in th summer, whether I needed a travel letter, and she said that they're handy, but not required by law. So went the lazy route. Lesson learned.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife did not take my name...because my first wife still uses it. She didn't want to be "Mrs. Comer II". Just this morning, when I took paper work into our new daycare, the director of the daycare was very confused. My wife had given her name as the contact, and the baby has a different name.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Rusti said...

When I got married I was considering both using my maiden name (Smith) as a middle name, or just adding hubs' last name on to the end of mine, as my father was the only boy of his fam - and he had just my sister & I... (although his father was the oldest of 10 children, 9 of those being males - so there ARE plenty of Smiths in our fam. still around... just not of Grampa's direct line)

Hubs & Dad were BOTH against me keeping my maiden name completely, and I ended up just going with hubs' and keeping my middle name. Haven't regretted it yet in the almost 2 years we've been married, and with a baby coming in a couple months I'm glad I won't have anything to think about beyond the first & middle name :) Although I must say that saying goodbye to Smith after 26 years was a little difficult... but hey - I'll always be a Smith - and I'll always be Rodg's daughter.

My sister was adamant that she would NOT change her name at all, even after Dad threatened not to walk her down the aisle if she didn't. She DID change her name (not because of the threat - which was only half-serious) but her hubs has agreed to give a boy the first name of Smith, which Dad (and the rest of us) LOVE. A year later she still complains about her new last name (mostly because she has problems writing a capital cursive I) but is glad she did, as she shares the name not only with hubs, but her 5-year-old step-son as well. His mother has remarried and has another child with new hub, so Lil Man still has two people who share his last name.

We're all content. But you have to do what feels right to YOU. That's what I did!

3:25 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

I will write a border story soon now. Because I love the border.

I have my mother's maiden name, and kept it even after they were married (ah, yes...I'm a bastard. :} ) I almost changed it in high school when I was living with my father. He has no male children to carry on his name, and sometimes I wonder if that makes him sad. But I'm a Burns, and that identity is pretty strong. It's the rez side of me; I've never lived with my father's family, just spent time with them at reunions and family events like that. So we're not nearly as close.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always knew I would change my name for that very reason: so that my children would know we were all a unit. I took pride in that as a kid and I wanted to give that to my children.
Hyphenating is too long and one name gets lost or used less and it's confusing.
I live in DC where many MANY families have multiple last names and it just seems less cohesive.
I imagine that as kids get older it matters not what mom's last name is but I like the idea of family pride and family sameness.

3:31 PM  
Blogger ANTM said...

I have always thought that when I get married, I would change my last name. It was my intention to hyphenate for a year and then fully switch over after that. You make an excellent point though of keeping it...

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I changed my name when I married. And I changed it back when I divorced. No bad feelings with my ex-husband, but I preferred my maiden name and we wanted a clean break. I think if I ever get married again, I would like to change my name, but I don't know. It certainly was a hassle to change it back!

My parents divorced after 20 years' marriage, and my mom kept her married name. When she got engaged, she decided to keep my father's name. I asked her about it once, and she said it's because it's the name her children have, and the name she had her entire adult life, and she couldn't imagine being known as something else. Her fiance understood and was okay with that decision. I'm always kind of fascinated by people's stories, when they are willing to share them.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

I never even contemplated not changing my name when I married Mr. Motorcycle. I should have - my last name was much easier to spell and no one mispronounced it. however I never considered doing anything but becoming Mrs. Motorcycle (I was 20). I do have a friend who married later in life, and she changed her middle name to her maiden name and took her husbands last name; I quite like that.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Elaine - that's funny - my mom kept her name from her 25 year marriage to my dad. She changed it when she married her second husband, but then changed back to Connors when she and husband #2 divorced.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I changed my name and for all of the reasons you mentioned. We were going to be a family, an US, and when we had kids I wanted to emphasis that unity. We considered, briefly, changing his last name to mine, but since he and my brother had the same first name, it seemed, well, redundant.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had a similar experience with the Canadian border guards, who also wanted a letter from my children's father. The father that IS NOT on their birth certificates (he left before we got the BC's done). My last name is my birth name, my kid's last name is my grandmother's maiden name, and their father has another last name. Talk about complicated. I finally started going by Mrs. KidsLastName although it has never been my name, because it's just easier. But I've never changed it. And I don't think I will.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Goldfish said...

Interesting... I changed my name when we married. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that was the thing I wanted to do. (No pressure from my husband at all-- he even volunteered to change his name.) I didn't miss my family name until very recently. Now I wish I had kept it. We've talked about me changing it back. I probably won't, but it's on the table.

3:49 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

I had an experience like that on the German-Austrian border. Stereotypes of Germans in big boots aside, I was crapping bricks.

Names? I met my husband when I made fun of his name at a party.

It was only poetic justice that it's now mine. And I had a really cool name.

Just recently, he said that he would have absolutely taken my last name instead. At any rate, all the name last name is practical in some ways, but different last names are explainable. However, yes, I think my kids would wonder why we all had different last names. Of course, maybe I'm just thinking about it from my current POV.

I was no help. You're welcome.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

3:50 PM  
Blogger - Kellie said...

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.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Tiffi33 said...

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..

4:08 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

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.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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?

4:12 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

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.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

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.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

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... ;)

4:22 PM  
Blogger Maureen Fitzgerald said...

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???

4:22 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Also, Jennster? Damn I love you.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

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 ;)

4:24 PM  
Blogger Kristen M. said...

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.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

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.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:37 PM  
Blogger MamaDrama said...

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..

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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).

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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?

4:49 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

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.

4:52 PM  
Blogger A Crafty Mom said...

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.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

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.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:31 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

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.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

6:34 PM  
Blogger DC said...

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.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Lukasmummy said...

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

6:46 PM  
Blogger Maman said...

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.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

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.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Ernesta said...

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.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Ernesta said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!!


8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!

8:50 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

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. ;-)

8:58 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

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.... :)

9:03 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

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.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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___?

9:57 PM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

wow, 153 comments in!

I changed mine when I got married - just for tradition, I guess. I shared my maiden name with my dad and brother (my mom has remarried 3 times), but I didn't feel a special attachment to it (dad issues, probably).

You can keep the Connors - my mom kept her maiden name by dropping her middle name and replacing it with her maiden, then took her husband's name.

10:38 PM  
Blogger April said...

i kept my name - primarily because of my profession at the time. but also (ok, mostly) because it was MY NAME.

now that i have kids and i stay at home with them i am rethinking the whole name thing... i still struggle with it, well, you obviously know why. but, yeh.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Cathy, Amy and Kristina said...

I changed mine legally -- in anticipation of the kids. Plus, I was joining a family -- Hubs and his two kids. I figured it would be less complicated for all involved if I just changed it.

However -- I use my maiden name professionally.

Makes things confusing at times, but it works for me.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Superdumb Supervillain said...

My Jasper has a different last name, too. His father's. Not mine. He's still too young to care but his sister knows the difference. At 4 1/2, Roo knows we have different last names and she seems okay with that. It does give my heart an ache I never thought I'd feel when I decided to keep my maiden name.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

don't know how you will find the time to digest a 157th comment, but here it is... i took my husband's name when we married almost 3 years ago. i did so because "angela p" had made so many stupid mistakes i was ready to put her to bed entirely and become "angela m". i didn't think to care that my firstborn was "bob n", and neither, it seemed, did he. until #2 was born. and #2 has always been "moosebaby m," no question. and that upset bob quite a lot when i told him under no circumstances was moosebaby an "n." he's grown more outwardly accepting of that fact, but i think inside, it still bothers him and makes him feel like our little family is somehow disjointed--like not only does he spend alternate weekends with another father, he also doesn't share the name on our wall--he's the odd man out. i hate that, and if i ever have the opportunity to change his name, i would. because yes, it's "just a name," but it's also so much more.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Amy Ruth Webb said...

I've been married for ten years and I had my first baby 20 months ago. I changed my name a month before he was born because it was the easiest thing to do.

I never liked my family name as I do not get along with my father or any of his family. I'd originally wanted to change my surname to my maternal grandmother's family name, but never got around to it. Then, the baby was on the way and I didn't want to hyphenate his last name with my own unwanted name and I didn't want to go to court to change my last name to my grandmother's. But I didn't want to be the odd person out name-wise , so the baby got grandmother's name as his middle name. And since I never liked my last name and my husband did like his, we all ended up with his.

Not to be judgemental, but this brings up a question I've been wondering about for a really long time. Why even when women keep their original surname, do they so often give their children their husband's surname alone rather than ours alone? This seems to be the de facto situation, but how is that any better in the sense that your husband's name is still the only one getting passed down?

Personally, I thought it would be cool to do like your father did and just choose an entirely new name but my husband wasn't down with that.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Overflowing Brain said...

I had every intention of taking my husband's last name when we got married 4 months ago, however, there's a typo on our marriage license and as it turns out, he married some girl named Kathnyn and we're having a hard time getting my first name (Kathryn) properly spelled.

So for the time being, I still have my maiden name, and apparently, someone else's first name.

My parents have different last names. It never bothered me growing up and I had the same last name as my father. I think it's only a big deal if you let it be, but I don't have children, so I suppose it's much easier for me to say that than to justify or prove it.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

I took Mr Earth's name because I knew I wanted children, and I wanted us to all have the same last name. I like to think of our family as a team and it's part of my theory that if you're all going to play for the same team, you have to wear the same jersey.

That being said, when I act, I use my maiden name. It was easier professionally-speaking, and as it is something that doesn't involve my family (other than in a supportive role), it's nice to keep that little bit of my past self, as a reminder of who I was and who I still am. Plus it keeps the scads of fans and stalkers at bay. ;-)

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kept my maiden name, but only because my DD has my maiden name. We added DS to the pic, and he got his Daddy's name.

In our house, girls have one name and the boys have another. If DD decides to have DH adopt her, I'm changing my name though.

Oh, I did that hyphen-thing for a little while, then I just got lazy and dropped it.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Angella said...

I always knew I would take my husband's name, for the reasons you cited.

He and I are one. Our children are a part of our Family.

I do not begrudge others who choose differently. We just want to be "samesies".


12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was 33 when I married my husband 6 years ago and kept my name. Hell, 33 years felt like a long time to be somebody then, and I guess I felt similarly to you. It was my name and I wanted to keep it.

Now that I'm finally pregnant, I've decided to change it. That's for a lot of the reasons you talk about here. I want our kids (we're having twins) to feel part of cohesive unit. My parents split and I was the only one in the house with my name after my mom remarried. I want my kids to grow up with their mom's last name. I could give them mine, but in all honesty - my husband has the cooler last name! And my last name was not the original either, it so happens. It was arbitrarily chosen by an immigration officer when my grandfather came to this country.

But after seeing the shit you got from the border cop, it almost makes me want to keep my name just out of spite. How dare that asshole treat you that way! What an imbecile.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Eventually, I changed my name. But it took six years of marriage and the birth of my first child to convince me--finally--to do it.

It was a bigger deal to my husband than it was to me. Which is why, ultimately, I just went ahead and did it. I had my license changed on our anniversary, in fact.

My "pen name" (God, does that sound cliched) is a combination of my maiden and married names.

Whatever you decide to do, there's no disputing the fact that your border guard was a douchebag. How you resisted hurling profanities at that ass is nothing short of a miracle.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother works for the Canadian Foreign Service. Here is a link to the letter, to make it easy. Everytime you go away change the particulars for your trip. Here it is:


This definitely helps when you are crossing the border with a child EVEN if you and the child have the same name.

And, as for who is named what, it is the relationship between people that make them a family, it is how the people nuture and treat the relationship, it is not, in my opinion, what their name is or EVEN whether or not they are biologically related. A family is someone you love, and someone who loves you.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

It's a long time ago and I was young and naive and didn't know I had a choice or wanted one.

Now, I would keep my own name and give my daughter my last name and my son my husband's last name. Or give them both hyphenated names.

I am divorced now and use my own name again, which is a great relief to me. I am glad I am not that woman with that other name anymore, I have my own identity back.

I think women should never give up their names.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I kept my own name just because of those wonderful creatures you met at the border. Also because professionally, every licensure I have ever had is under my maiden name and I did not want the hassle of having to change them.

However, if I'm introducing myself to someone, I am Kirsten M___, and on occassion I will sign up for magazine subscriptions as Kirsten B__-M___.

My husband, at times has issues with the fact that I did not take his name, as his first wife didn't either. I use his name everywhere but for international travel and my licensing though. So I'm a B__-M__ at heart.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

I kept my last name, it was important to me and to my husband. We gave our son my last name and my husband's last name is his first name. We are crazy like that.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I kept my name for the first year of marriage. My husband is Korean and I am not and we were living in Korea where no one changes their name, so it felt normal. When we moved back to the US, we kept having these experiences (DMV, bank, apartment leasing office)where it seemed like people didn't believe we were married. Nothing overt, but kind of a questioning look. I realized that we're probably always going to get this and when we have children, I might have the same issue, having children that are part Caucasian/part Korean. I don't want people to wonder if I'm babysitting.
For me, having the same name as my husband and someday, my children seems easier, as much as I love my maiden name.

I didn't want to get rid of it completely, so I made my maiden name my middle name.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I hear you about wanting a family name, kids parents, everyone under the same moniker. My husband and I both changes our names, and now that we have a baby, we all go by the same hyphenated last name. I really don't like the hyphen, and sometimes I drop it and Just put the names together, but officially the hyphen is easier when filling out forms etc. Admittedly, both my husband and I came to this union with simple,one syllable last names, so it made the decision a lot easier. My husband got some flack from his parents when we made the decision, but they're used to it now. I had to threaten to write 'return to sender - no one here by that name' when they kept send ing christmas and birthday cards to 'Mrs. Hubby's First Name, Hubby's old last name'. He had a talk with them, and it's all good now :)

8:31 AM  
Blogger Momo Fali said...

I grew up with the last name Davis. I loved that name. It was easy to say, everyone knows how to spell it, and when the song Amadeus was popular, my cousins and I changed the lyrics to "I'm a Davis, I'm a Davis..." We were cool like that.

But, my Mom had a different last name (my step-father's) and I HATED it. Hated it immensely. My friends never knew what to call her and I just wanted her to be like me. Not something different.

There was absolutely no decision to be made when I got married. I loved being a Davis, but that was a different family and I was to start one of my own. I kept Davis as my middle name, which suits me fine...and all my kids' friends know what to call me.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're a bit unconventional. Before we even started trying we decided that girl children would get my name and boy children would get his, and they'd have the opposite as middle names. When our daughter was born and we were filling out the forms I asked my husband if he was sure and he said he was.

It worked out well. We have one girl with my name and one boy with his. When people say, "But how will people know they're related?!?" we simply say that it doesn't matter, that our kids will know and that's good enough for us.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is my own; my husband's is his own. I've never been able to imagine having a different one from the one I'd known growing up... also, I am lazy. The thought of changing ID, etc. is daunting to someone who hates that sort of paperwork and busy, fiddly tasks.

To help address the "she's my baby even though our names are different" thing while travelling (my daughter and I travel a lot without her dad), she has my surname as one of her middle names. No one has ever questioned me at an airport. It seemed easier and less unwieldy than a hyphenated name -- the option my sister chose. That's great, I think, when the names are shorter, simple and "flow" together. When the names are longer and bulky, it doesn't work for me.

(All of this said, my daughter's kindergarten teacher insists, for some irksome reason, on referring to me by my husband/daughter's last name, even though I always use my own name on correspondence. She must have a mental block about it for some reason, because there are plenty of other mothers in the class who have different last names than their children and she seems capable of addressing them properly.)

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack. Just saw your comment about Jasper having Connors as one of his last names... makes me wonder about that border guard.
Further, even if you *did* have the same last name, you could still be taking the baby without the father's permission! Having the same last name is no guarantee of anything -- many women continue to use the name of their former partner when they're estranged.
I knew a woman who kept her ex-husband's name and even gave that name to the baby she had with another man after the marriage dissolved. So, both she and her daughter have the same name, but neither has any real tie to it. I know that it bothered the ex-husband, too, that she kept his name after the divorce *and* gave it to a baby who was no relation to him.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way we did it in our old hippie way was:
boys get last name same as father, middle name last name of mother.
girls get last name same as mother, middle name last name of father.

long time listener, first time caller,
Doc Horton

12:23 PM  
Blogger Erica Kain said...

I took Hub-D's last name. It's just easier, and I kind of like it that way. It's old fashioned, oh, and there is no way he would have acquiesced to my keeping my maiden name anyway.

If it's any consolation, all they do is print a little amendment on the back of your passport, so you can pretend NOT to have changed your name for 10 years. But any worried border guards can flip to that amendment and feel solace.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd split up with my little boys dad before I found out I was pregnant. I had many arguments with people (including his dad) ove what my little boys last name should be. Everyone told me he should have my name, I wanted him to have his father's name. I argued that when I get married to someone else then my son will either a) be the only person with my maiden name so wouldn't have the same name as his mother or his father, or b) he'd take his step-fathers name which as my ex is such an awesome dad I think would be really disrespectful.

Right now neither me or my son give a damn that he has a different name. He's his daddy's son and no-one elses. I've not tried to take him out of the country yet but we're in England so I'm not sure how kiddies passports work here, whether they have parents name's on or anything. I'll flash 'em my bits if they want me to prove I'm his mummy!

What would they say if the dad was taking a child with his surname out of the country? Nothing against men but aren't they usually the ones who feel like they're in a position where they have to take their children or they won't see them?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom didn't take my dad's name. It annoys me. People always think my parents are divorced or call my mom the wrong name. I never know what name hotel reservations or plane tickets are under if I need to phone them or check something for them. Also when I asked my mom why she didn't take my dad's name she acted so pissed off that I would even ask so I still don't know her reasoning. I assume it's because she wanted to make a gesture to her own father who raised her sans mother since he was a widow. I respect that, but at the same time think that when people marry both are supposed to acknowledge that each other is now the most important person/thing in each other's life. Therefore the gesture of taking a spouse's name should trump all the other reasons to keep one's own name. At the very least, if you do keep your own name for the love of god have a reasonable reason to tell your kids why. My mom's lack of explanation just sounded dismissive of my dad to me. I gave up my maiden name despite initially planning to keep it. It was important to my husband I change it so I did. I don't regret it. I really like that we are a unit, "the so and so's". I would like to give one of my kids my maiden name as a middle name maybe but it's not ever used as a middle name so I don't know if that would be weird.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Stimey said...

Wow. I don't know that you need my comment too, but I took my husband's last name, and made my maiden name a second middle name. On legal documents I use both last names, otherwise I use his name. I did it that way because my maiden name really does matter to me.

I have had several significant difficulties getting into and out of Canada. Fortunately, we also seemed "okay" apparently.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

I took my husband's last name because my last name was hard to say, hard to spell, hard to remember. His name, easy peasy. He wanted us to have my name because of its uniqueness. I was tired of being unique.

As for you, it would be the name on your passport, the name you sign your Christmas cards. But to me, and to most I assume, you'll always be Catherine Connors. You'll be like Mir at WouldaCouldaShoulda. A personal name and a stage name. Names are free, have as many as you like!

And I haven't forgotten about the code thingy that my husband said he'd write. He's working on it. Slowly. But truly.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As neither of us wanted to complete change to a completely new last name AND we both wanted the same last name, we compromised. (It was my husband's brilliant idea, and I was glad that he came up with it.) We both took both last names (no hyphen, just a space). I think we both enjoy keeping the ties to our respective families. We are both Rs and we are both Gs; we are the G R family now. It's a completely new family (just as we are), but it contains the ties to our own families from singlehood, which was important to both of us. My family name really did mean a lot to me, though, so I was having a VERY difficult time with the name-changing idea.

You have to do what is right in YOUR mind, for YOUR family. I know some who have hyphenated (only the wife, though), some who took their husbands' names, others who kept their own, and then us (who both took both names, which I haven't encountered before). If you want to be "the M family", you'll definitely have to consider how important it is to you (in regards to your children) to truly have the M name for your own. I think you can still be the M family without changing your name, but--in the end--how important that is really will depend on how much it matters to you and your family.

Good luck with the decision!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Brazil there's no tradition of middle names and all children get both their mother's and their father's surnames. I do believe it's better this way, even with the male side prevailing anyway. My surnames tell the story of where I came from, so the idea of going by my husband's name is frankly bizarre to me. I would never feel like myself.

If I ever have a child, it will get my father's surname and my husband's father's surname, which is a double name. My sister wanted my niece to have our mother's surname as well and she ended up getting four of them. It may sound strange to you, but multiple surnames are quite common around here. What's strange to me is a mother having to change her own name to match her offspring's instead of just giving her offspring her name.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

I kept my name. I married after I got my PhD and had published papers with my name. Hubby didn't care what I did. Neither of us have difficult last names, neither of us have issues with our families... so it really just seemed like a non-issue. Besides "Dr. HisLastName" is my father in law. I'm "Dr. MyLastName".

We figure with the number of kids from blended families nowadays, it shouldn't be a problem for Pumpkin. So far, it hasn't been. I haven't left the country with her yet, but I guess a letter from the non-traveling parent would be a good idea regardless of name. Who's to say the woman or man with the same last name as the baby isn't in the midst of an ugly divorce with the other parent? It seems to me that names are a bad way to judge whether or not you have legal custody of the baby.

I will say that airlines are more likely to decide we aren't really traveling together and split us up- but that has only happened twice in a very, very large number of trips. Both times were pre-baby.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would venture to say that changing your name now shouldn't cause much of a rift. However, with a maiden name of "Head" I was quite ready to rid myself of that horrible name when I married. Thus far...to date, my name looks like this........

Jerri Ann Head Little Head Busby Head Moreland Head Reason

All the more "Reason" to stick with just my husband's last name now that I have children. Boy, it could have got ugly if I had been having children all those years though...

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annonymous 3:12 I have a question for you, you say "...when people marry both are supposed to acknowledge that each other is now the most important person/thing in each other's life. Therefore the gesture of taking a spouse's name should trump all the other reasons to keep one's own name." I was wondering what are you suggesting the husband gave up? If the woman takes her husbands name to acknowledge that he is the most importang thing in her life, and IF that trumps all other reasons to keep ones own name, that sounds like the wife is the only one acknowledging that the other person is the most important thing in life. How is the husband demonstrating that the wife is the most important thing in his life?

My parents are divorced, not my mothers choice. She changed her name to my dad's name when she married. Now, she has to change her name back or be reminded every time she signs or says her name that her marriage failed. It sounds like the woman is always doing the compromising.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do what feels right to you about the name. I kept mine and intend to do so forever. Funnily enough Douglas asked once why we gave him his dad's last name. I explained that that was what most people did, but said that if he ever wanted to have hyphenated or even my name, we would do that, it would be his choice.

As for the border guard, if it was a US border guard, they are supposed to ask for the letter from the other parent *even if* the last name is the same whenever a single US parent is taking a US child out of the country.

He may have been ham-handed, and certainly applying a US law to Canadian citizens returning home is not appropriate, but the intent of the law is right. Too many parents, of both sexes, have been denied parental rights due to parental kidnapping, often by a non-custodial parent.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my 2nd marriage and I chose to change my name. In my first marriage I did not. I was (hopefully still am?) a writer and loved my byline. I was a reporter and did a bit of a survey on what others had done too. I interviewed about 20 women who did, 20 who didn't and 20 who took some sort of hyphenated name or new name. What I came away with was : Either do it or dont but for goodness sakes, do NOT hyphenate the name. Every single one had stories of things gone wrong with insurance, police, taxes, schools, etc.

This time I knew there would be children involved and I decided to change my name. I had heard of a horror story similar to your border story about an injured child at school who couldn't be picked up by mom with different last name.

Also I live in an area surrounded by my inlaws and far away from my own family. I kind of wanted to join the tribe!

I use my maiden name as my middle name and insist on anything printed to have all 3 names. Not hyphens but just all 3 names like many authors do.

Good luck with your decision.

One thing that helps me: the name is not what defines me or makes me. It is what I do and feel that defines me.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 6:53, hmm my comment seems arrogant looking back. Apologies, when assvice is specifically asked for I tend to not hold back, and the arrogance obv goes up. :) So here's my effort at an explanation. First off my quote that you quoted really only applies to me I guess since that is my interpretation of marriage and certainly each couple gets to make their own interpretation of what it means to be married. If the husband doesn't mind that the wife doesn't take his name then of course it is a non issue. I think in each couple the husband and wife give things up on different days. One might give up a name, the other might give up a promotion, living in their preferred city, or compromising on the number of kids to have. I think the argument that since the wife changes her name the husband is sacrificing nothing ignores the fact that a marriage that lasts a lifetime will present several opportunities for each to sacrifice and give to the marriage. The one thing I do reject I guess is that when you change your name you are really succumbing to something archaic. Some people (not you) I have had this debate with feel taking the husband's name says you are his property. To me, it is a way to express love for and pride in the one you marry, and a chance to establish yourself as a unit separate from your respective families. I also think it's sort of romantic that a husband wants a wife to have his name.

9:26 PM  
Blogger worldmomma said...

I kept my name. But in order to have our son represent his heritage from both sides and in order to avoid just the situation you described, both of our names are on his passport and all other IDs. My name is officially his second middle name and my husband's is the last name. But we use them both as his day to day last name. If we have another child, that child will have both of our names (starting with mine) as his/her last name. So far, it has worked well for us.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like someone else mentioned, it Latin America, women always keep their name, and everyone's name is Dad's last name first and Mom's maiden last name second. No one ever takes their husband's last name legally, though they may be known as Mrs of "insert-husband's last name" in an unofficial capacity.

In India, children take their dad's first name as their middle name, regardless of gender, while many wives take their husband's first name as their middle name.

So I'm Latina, my fiancé is of Indian descent, and I don't want to lose my last name (especially since his last name is not only very generic, but it's a religious last name, belonging to a religion I don't believe in), but if I hyphenate my last with his, the resulting last name will sound like the word crazy. Oh joy.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Just as another option (and I'm not sure if this has been mentioned already... there are a LOT of comments here and I'm too impatient to read through them all):
You are allowed to assume your husband's last name while keeping your own. You can get a passport with your spousal name on it. You will need your marriage certificate and one additional government issued document (I switched my health card over, I have my driver's license in my legal last name, my maiden name).
I could never not be Michelle Maidenname. My dad had two girls and it's really important to me to have that connection. It's who I am. But I am also Michelle Husbandslastname. I have no problem being both. I chose to switch my passport for the exact reason you describe in this post. It galls me to have to do it, but I'd rather not have the hassle while traveling with my daughter.
In my professional life I'm Michelle Maidenname, and in my personal life I'm Michelle Husbandslastname. Hope this helps!

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm unmarried, but when I do, I'll be taking his last name. No hyphenation, none of that. Sue me, feminists, but I like "Hi, I'm Mr. Smith, this is my wife Mrs. Smith and these are our children, Bob Smith and Sue Smith."

I don't know why changing your name equates losing a sense of self to people. Just because I change my name to Smith instead of Jones doesn't mean I forget who I am. Neither does my family, my husband, his family or our friends. I'd just be his wife and um, since I said "I do" to this man, I'd hope I'm okay with this.

I personally don't like the "giving girls mom's last name, giving boy's dad's last name" method. Its every parent's choice and I won't bash. I can just see two siblings with different last names having to explain it a lot. "Hi, I'm Dan Smith and this is my sister Susie Jones." "Half sister?" "Nope, sister." "Were your parents unmarried?" "Nope. She's just got mom's name and I got dad's." "Um, why?" They'll hear that conversation a lot, I tell ya.

I agree with the poster who said "To play on the same team, you wear the same jersey." Its not what defines you, but its what unites you to the outside world. Multiple last names are part of a blended family be default, but when its a standard nuclear reason, I don't see a reason to complicate things. I'll be changing mine.

But do whatever works for you! That's just my take.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Serial Mommy said...

when i married my first husband, i didn't change my name at all, i kept my maiden name..i didn't even attempt to pretend to have his name...therefore, getting divorced was MUCH easier, at least with no extra trips to the secretary of state (michigan's version of the dmv) and social security offices...when i got married for the 2nd time, i told my would be husband that i wouldn't be chaning my name, his mother was LIVID about that...he showed disdain...one day i was driving around and i just went and DID it however...came home with a brand new name, and the happiest hubby on the block...i have 4 kids, my daughters have a hyphenated version of my maiden name and their fathers' names (2 different ones) and my older son just has his father's name (same as my youngest daughter) and my youngest son has just his father's name, which is now my name...it's confusing...and in order to go out of the country with them all, i'd have to bring a file cabinet of documentation! good thing i've never been out of the country i guess...my point is this, it is just a name, and i know that when you show up and show your hubby that driver's license with his name on it next to yours, he WILL be the happiest hubby on the block...

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was 33 when Rob and I got married. Our son was two years old and has his father's surename. It felt odd for me to change my surname to my husbands after being Lisa L**** for 32 years and being quite accustomed to it.

I thought about it longer than I probably should have and decided that I would take my husband's name. Doing so made me feel like it was the last thing to do to make us a complete family unit without any muddling about with two different surenames.

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Surname* Gah! THat's what I get for leaving comments this late at night.

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

delurking to comment on this - and in my case, i kept my name AND hyphenated (word???) my husband's name in FRONT of my name...so still my "maiden" name is last... why? becuz like you say, its an attachment thing, a name i've had all my 42 years before i married, and its just so a part of who i am & where i come from... must say, since its come to be that we can't have children, i've experienced a humble happiness that i did keep my name just for me...as for my husband's name, i'm just as humbly proud to wear it too! our "family's" lines end now, but my nephews & nieces on that side will hopefully carry it on...

carol in the netherlands

p.s. altho' our "kid" is a dog & much loved, i do very much enjoy reading your blog for its raw honesty, candidness, rich & ebullient language, and that you live life to the truest & share it.. rock on! ;-)

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whooops!! to add humour & fact to our story - our dog-kid has quite a name herself...she's purebred entlebucher sennenhond, so she has that 'official' last name which isn't short by 5 names PLUS my husband's name to finish it off!! quite regal, if you ask us, and we love it!!


5:35 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

I kept my name, and my son and husband have a different name. My son has known my last name since he was about two years old. I have a copy of my marriage certificate in my wallet at all times to prove that I am, indeed, my husband's wife, and my son's mother. People often address me as Mrs. My-husband's-last-name and I try to smile and just go with it.

Still, my name is my name, and I won't change it. I have quite a few students whose mothers have different names than their children, or whose fathers have different names. People just will have to get used to it.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I put my maiden name as my middle name. Of course my husband always screws my name up for when he put my name on a recent credit card he used another middle name!

9:31 AM  
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