it’s always like this

April 27, 2009

what’s my mutha-f-n name

Filed under: a wedding story, family ties, growing pains, just shoot me — notsojenny @ 9:17 am

as we’ve gone further into the wedding planning i’ve noticed the same question coming up more and more.  not from family and friends, from vendors.  and i’m surprised each time.  i guess they use the information for their filing purposes but it takes me a few beats to react each time someone asks me…

so, will you be changing your last name after the wedding?

or some form of that question.  i usually take a few seconds to gather my thoughts that just scrambled but i pretty much always reply “uh, yah”.  but in all honesty, i really don’t know.

this is a crazy one for me and i haven’t spent a considerable amount of time sitting around, with no distractions, just thinking about it (which is necessary for me to make any big decision).   most people who know me just assume i’ll be changing my name, it’s not even a question.  for the most part i always assumed that too, i mean why else would i have wasted entire note pads doodling my name with his?  i’m an extremely traditional person.  i pine for the times when women wore bouffants and poodle skirts, when they were expected to get married and raise a family and just stay at home, this was their role.  so for me to even question this has been hard.

but as much as i want to be barefoot and pregnant in the next few years and stay home to raise kids, i can’t help but hear these frustrated thoughts coming from my independent side.  i’ve been wildly independent for my entire life.  i don’t expect that to stop just because i’m getting married.  i mean i know i won’t have to be independent anymore, but i know i could be and there will be aspects of this that i’ll retain.  so even though the whole not-changing-your-name option seems too feminist for me there are parts of it that i totally understand.

i’ve been fighting with the question of and answer to, what will my name be after we hear “i now pronounce you man and wife”?    i’ve never been a fan of the hyphen so i threw that out of the running right away, i just think it’s way too confusing for people and especially for the future chi’dens.  basically i’ve narrowed it down to 2 options;  i can either keep my name or take his.  there are so many things that have had me going back and forth on this. 

the biggest issue for me is one of a loss of identity.  i’ve spent my entire life as miss notsojenny.  i can’t help but feel like if i were to suddenly become mrs. M that everything i’ve done, everything i’ve gained, everything i’ve accomplished as miss notsojenny would just disappear, that my former self would instantly cease to exist.  i realize changing my name doesn’t change me as a person but it definitely changes my identity.  it changes my past.  miss notsojenny has a past.  while i would be thrilled to lose some of the mistakes i’ve made, some of the not so great things that have been associated with me and my name, i would also be heartbroken to lose everything that people have known about miss notsojennymrs. M has no past, no possibly negative history, but also no accomplishments.  and while that’s great because it’s like an automatic fresh start, it also feels like it’s lacking so much… well, lacking life.  i just can’t imagine adopting a completely new name, it’s not me… right?  because i’m miss notsojenny.   that’s all i’ve ever known myself as, that’s all anyone has ever known me as.

but then there’s tradition.  and i would never do something JUST because of tradition but there’s alot of meaning in it too.  i feel like NOT taking his name would be disrespectful to M’s family, while i also feel like taking his name WOULD be disrespectful to my family (not that they would ever see it that way though).  i guess one of my big sticking points is an argument i had with my father once (keep in mind this is my family so there are never sweet talks where we exchange true sentiment and words of wisdom, there’s yelling and screaming truths and emotions veiled in hurt words and expressions).  in this argument he let out that he was disappointed because he thought i was going to be his boy, the one that would carry on our family’s name, but instead it would now die with him.  now you have to also realize that my mother was told i was a boy all the way up until i popped out in labor, they said this about my sister too.  so my folks  were kind of caught off guard and i can totally see how someone would be disappointed when they were told they’re getting something for 9 months and at the last minute they’re told “too bad, you get this instead”, there could definitely be some angry feelings and let down you have to suppress. 

i do love my name.  i love that it’s not Smith or Jones (no offense to the smiths or joneses).  i love the way my full name flows.  i love that i can buy stuff with my name on it since associated with a (now) very popular brand.  but i also love that it’s not so unique that people can’t pronounce it or have never heard it before.  there are celebrities and athletes that are always associated with my name, i often get to hear “oh, (lastname)?  just like the basketball player”.  and M’s last name, it’s not bad.  i like it, it’s easy to spell but it’s less common than mine.  in fact, according to howmanyofme there are 214 people in the US with my name, and only 8 people in the US with my possible married name.  so both are fairly unique.

i believe i’ve come up with a solution though.  this is what will work best for me — after we are married i’ll be completing the legal paperwork.  i want us to have the same name as far as the government is concerned, i want us to be family, i want my children to recognize that we all have the same name, and we’re family.  this is extremely important to me.  on my legal paperwork i’ll be giving up my middle name (which pains me more than i could ever post about) and taking my maiden in it’s place.  in all legal aspects i will become mrs. M.  but i’m going to hold onto my identity where i can.  i won’t be changing my name at work (only on paperwork where required), i won’t be changing my name on FB, i wont’ be changing my email name, etc.  it’s the most i can do to hold on to who i’ve been and pieces of who i am, who i’ve created for my name.

i’m sure there are people out there that will think this is wrong, that i should just take his name and be done with it.  and i used to feel that way too, i used to think it was that easy.  but now that it’s come time to actually do it  i’ve had a change of heart.  don’t get me wrong, i am so overly excited to be mrs. M… but i’m also relieved to still be able to answer my phone at work “hello, this is miss notsojenny“.



~ today i learned… lying on your back when pregnant reduces oxygen to the baby… you should lie on your side, preferably your left side (not sure why yet… more googling to be done) ~



  1. I know a lot of people that drop their middle name and move their maiden name into that spot. Actually, I think that’s a pretty southern tradition. L was quite surprised when we were talking about that one day and I told him that I didn’t plan on doing that.

    The whole name change thing is a very personal decision and a hard one to make. There are no other males in my family to carry on the name either. I think what you’re planning to do seems to be a good compromise for yourself. I’m with you on wanting your family to all have the same names.

    Comment by DanceintheRain — April 27, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  2. I had a hard time with changing my name. I finally settled on making my maiden name my middle, and now I don’t even think about it. It’s become natural to go by my married name. I do not, however, go by Mrs. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like it. Luckily in schools, most kids will just call you Miss anyway.

    Comment by Jackie — April 27, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  3. This is a difficult decision, certainly, and it looks like you’re being careful about looking at all sides. I keep wanting to say that, objectively, of course you’ll still be the same person, a rose is still a rose by any other name, etc. I stop myself, though, because while that may be true–and I think objectively it is–it definitely doesn’t feel that way. Tradition is great, but traditionally, brides were right out of high school–their entire adult life was their married life, and taking a new name wasn’t “erasing” or replacing near as much. We’re independent now; we’ve really made names for ourselves the way younger girls maybe haven’t. There’s a lot more at stake, in other words, and I think a careful approach is the best one. You have to do what feels most comfortable for you.

    And I’m going to be really sad to see my middle name go, too, even though I rarely think about it. It starts with the same letter as my last name, though, so I can at least be mrs. magda m. whoever, and I’ll always be able to pretend…

    Comment by magda — April 28, 2009 @ 11:26 am

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