Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lay Lady Lay

You'd think that I, a girl with a name regularly deemed unpronounceable, a girl who comes from the D/O'D confusion, would have no problem with the whole name change business that I've chosen to have accompany my marriage.  BUT DAMN...this is hard work. 

I mean, beyond the normal stuff like forgetting your own initials when you're picking up your co-op order and signing your checks wrong and having to get a new gmail address so your resume looks legit (PS. who the hell is the other one of me that took my easy gmail address and forced me to add a weird e in the middle???), I've got this strange phenomenon going on...

Last sunday, JR and I were required to introduce ourselves in a sunday school class.  He started.  Easy for him...he's been the same name for 36 years.  Then it was my turn and I paused.  A feeling surged through me...a feeling like...well, I don't know how to describe it but it sounded like this in my head (all happening in .5 seconds):  "I don't want to just be the wife appendage saying his last name right after he just said his own last name I want to say my own last name - but if I was alone I would want to say my new last name but just not now together in this room with all these other people and right after he said it like I'm some sort of copycat I want to be different from him but I love him and love being married to him but I just don't want to not say my own last name and then I'll say Lay" and that's what I did, I said, "I'm KaRyn D____ L____".  (I can't write them out here together in an attempt to throw off search engines looking for some daily action)

Right after I said it, JR turned to me kind of hurt and said, "there's no D____ in there." BUT THERE IS!!!! There are 34 year of D_____ in there and I miss having my name.  I miss it.  OK?  I read somewhere that men and women (even those of us of a certain age) perceive getting married differently.  Men view it as "added value"- they get a wife, a crowning achievement that completes their manly ouevre.  Women almost always view it from the lens of loss.  We lose our freedom, we lose our parents, we lose our network of girls and we lose our name.  Our NAME.  The thing that has identified us to the outside world since our birth.  Is this not epic?????  I get that it is, and I still chose to do it as have MILLIONS of women.  We take on our husband's name presumably in an effort to be one.  It is important to insert here that my feelings don't seem to be some feminist manifesto-y type of thing.  The reality is that my last name from birth was a bestowal from my father's side...someone else gave me that name as part of a patriarchal system that decrees such things.  As for my new name, I can at least say that I CHOSE this one (and it's a nice name too...monosyllabic, simple, cute!)

The interesting part to me was my unwillingness to say it right after JR said it.  There was a sense that if I said it right then, I would be forever lumped with him as "just" a wife.  That's kind of a feminist issue, I suppose.  Was it because it was church? I'm intrigued to see if I will be hesitant in other situations to get rid of the D_____ in the introduction.  Has anyone else had this happen? Tell me your stories of name changing trauma.


The Mrs. said...

I still haven't been able to do it. I told myself I'd do it after taxes were done. Now I'm telling myself I'll do it this summer when I have more time to go about it. The other day I was in the temple and they asked for my name, and I said my maiden. I just can't make the change.

It's the only issue we really haven't been able to come to consensus on. I know more than one woman who didn't change it and the world didn't fall down around them.

I'm still trying to decide.

Here's my thoughts:

I found this interesting:

Sara Mc. said...

I think a lot of it has to do with the loss of self and identity as you describe. I've often pondered what I would do when/if I get married and just assume I wouldn't change my name unless my husband's name just really resonates with me down to my soul. I mean, while everyone else fills out the "hello, my name is" stickers with their first name, I have ALWAYS put my full name. I associate myself more with my last name than I ever have with my first name. To give it up would be like the loss of a limb.

But the examples in my immediate family tend to lean towards not taking the husband's name. My brother's wife retained her name, only one of my sisters changed her name, and my aunt kept her maiden name when she got married 25 years ago. They each had a different reason for their decision.

Krisanne said...

It is epic. It is absolutely epic. It's symbolic, and I can understand that feeling of loss. I did it once and now I'm contemplating doing it again (again!)

Also, I think you need to come to terms with the fact that you are a dirty feminist. These issues are feminist issues no matter what name we give them (ha! no pun intended).

Alie said...

I've been married now for 6 1/2 years. The other day I was at work trying to sign onto our server with my username (which is my last name and a few other numbers) I called IT and someone came over to help me. I was so annoyed that the system wasn't allowing me to log in like it does every other day. The IT guy watched me sign and said, "Wait, you keep putting in your last name as K--------, isn't it T------? Anyway, I forgot I changed my name a few years ago.

It's just strange this whole business about having a new last name.

Robyn said...

KaRyn- I love you and I love this blog! and everyone else that commented, I love that it's totally normal to have these feelings and to know I'm not the only one. I am in no danger of needed to change my name now or in the near future, but I have always felt that I would probably hyphenate my name because people know me by my current last name and I don't want to all the sudden be someone totally different, and that's kinda what it feels like. to me anyways....

Tamara @31dates said...

NB, I'm in the midst of working on Book #2 (or #3, depending on how long it takes!), which is about the common woes and adjustments of newlyweds. I'm planning on a full chapter devoted to new names.

As for me, I still don't know what my name is. You'll notice that I published 31 DATES IN 31 DAYS under "both my last names" because I was unsure of what to go by. And every time I say that long name out loud, I have to recall that it has more syllables than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I've blogged about my struggle with name changes too:
After writing about it, one man wrote to me and told me about how HE took his wife's last name. He was proud to do it. I found myself in a surprisingly anti-feminist state, wondering why any man would choose to immasculate himself in such a patriarchal society. But then I realized that it made him feel like they were "family." Why should I care so much?
These days, I still don't know if I'm happy that I legally changed my last name from one of the world's most rare to the 2nd most common in America. And then I wonder if I should just change my name altogether again, like movie stars and celebrities seem to do so easily.

Oh yes... and that gentleman who changed his last name. He received a lot of flack from family and friends (something women still seem to receive when they DON'T change theirs). But the best comment he received came from an old buddy who said, "Congratulations! May you someday be blessed with a daughter so someone will be able to carry the family name!"

Good like with your identity adjustment!

Brielle said...

I recently introduced myself with the wrong last name in our new ward during my talk in sacrament meeting. It was pretty ridiculous since I've been married almost 8 years.

But in my super conservative house wifey/mothery opinion I think it's a wonderful thing to take on a new name. You are just adding to your family. Where once you thought you were full and complete you get to add a whole new set of ancestors and all of the history that goes with that. I feel like my husbands grandparents and great grandparents are mine. It's like how you can't imagine you can have any more love in you and then you have a new baby and your capacity to love just grows somehow. I never felt like I was abandoning myself by going by a new last name, I just felt like my identity was expanding to include his. I don't know - maybe it's because I got married at 23 and was too young to know better?

Good luck - and I got my strawberries the other day. Now I SERIOUSLY have to do something with them. Thanks for the tip.

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J said...

Last night I was at church and introduced myself by my maiden name. I confused myself so much! I know what you mean about the name change. I have wanted my husband to take MY name. And, he actually considered it. But, I really think it means a lot to him that I took his name.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto this blog searching about names and I gotta say: You seem to be an utterly selfish and pigheaded person and as a woman myself that is PROUD to have taken her husband's name, you should be ashamed of yourself. Enjoy your misery.

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Aunt Katybelle said...

45 years ago I kept my entire name and just added his last name. I may be "Mrs. Smith," but I'm also "Mary Alice Jones Smith." I still have ME in my name and my identity. My mother did this 68 years ago, and my grandmother did it 88 years ago. They weren't feminists back then; just smart women!


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