I took my name back today.
When I got divorced I checked the box that granted me “permission” to reclaim my name, but made the decision to keep my married name while my kids were still in school.
Truly, I never wanted to change my name and in a way, I never really did. I added my married name and legally went by two last names, no hyphen. Let me tell ya, does that ever confuse people. And did it ever bug my ex-husband, who complained I was making things “complicated.” Not only did the Y in my first name throw people off, now I had to explain that it was “two words, no hyphen, and you might find me filed under B, or under D.”
What is unreasonably complicated: GETTING YOUR NAME BACK. Social Security wants proof that you are allowed to go back to the name you were born with. DMV, same. No matter that it’s on my birth certificate. No matter that this is MY NAME. These dumb federal entities need boxes checked and fees paid. Whatever. One more federal (passport) to go, then it’s just the little stuff –but I am officially the name I was born with as of today.
Though of course, I never wasn’t.
Since my brother didn’t have children, my surname ends with me. And I really hate that somewhere along the line we decided to organize society around men’s last names, effectively erasing entire family names–and erasing women. My son carries my last name as his middle name, and my daughter has asked to add it to hers, and that’s special, for sure. But that won’t carry the name on.
I guess names would get pretty long if we just kept adding names on, though, so I understand instead we might all be ten names long.
Still. I like that I got not just my name back today, but also my dad’s. As I write this, I am at his bedside. He is dying. And if anyone is deserving of me carrying his name—our name—it is him. A tribute not just to him but to the family he and my mom created.
I love you Dad. And I’ll always be your girl. 💙