What’s in a Name?

This is for you guys out there. Something that you may not have considered.

This was inspired by my Facebook connection to my High School graduating class of 1974, since, the women are much harder to identify. It reminded me of something.

The social convention of women taking their husband’s last name is common and seems quite mundane, especially to the husband.

It wasn’t really easy for me, and I suspect, it hasn’t been easy for many women. We create an individuality, a reputation and a persona as we grow up then our “identity” is renamed, changed, in one day.

At first, my biggest fear was accidentally misspelling this name but it felt like I was hiding my true identity for years. Soon, came the ordinary questions from locals about this family, which I really had no history with. Few asked about my “maiden” family because it was hidden but I had been THAT former person all of my life. There was a brand new persona that was in its infancy and I felt a little lost.

In my case, we lived (and still do) in a small city where our families had an equal recognizability. I was not as much an alien, as a bipolar person. For years, I was introduced with two names, by folks who were “in the know”. The old person and this new one…I hadn’t changed a bit though. Creepy when you really get down to it.

I realized that this was a sore point for years, when I uncharacteristically made a snipe at friend of my husband’s family. About two years into our marriage, our first child was born. My husband’s family friend was admiring our beautiful daughter and commented, in jest, “You should had named her Edwina after her father.”

I felt flushed for a moment, then said, “Why would I? She already has HIS last name!”

The rush of resentful emotion startled me, as much as, the poor woman.

Now, I’ve been married for 34 years and I’m no longer the “maiden”. I have built one fine new reputation and persona and I’m comfortable. But when I try to relate to friends who knew me by an ancient name, there’s still a pinch…a moment of mourning, about that not so mundane name change long ago.

23612_411477303827_530328827_5007867_4476253_nSusan

Happy Valentine’s Day… whomever you are?

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7 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. What is the solution?
    I know some people hyphenate their names. In some cases the woman continues to use their previous name in their business lives.
    What is the purpose of marriage? Grown ups marry with recognition of the ‘conventions’ that result as a consequence – if those conventions stick in the craw perhaps marriage isn’t the solution. When a child is born to a loving couple (ie the guy doesn’t do a runner) why should the child take the fathers name?

    • It’s a fair question. It was difficult but not insurmountable. I’m old-fashioned enough to think marriage works fine in the traditional sense. Men have many “manly” crosses to bear in our society too. Life is not supposed to even-steven or fair at every moment. Understanding the “crosses” of others is what helps the most. Too many people find every obstacle a cause for change. I say, “Let’s pick our battles wisely and with priorities.”

      • Unfortunately, despite our sense of ‘moderness’ we still labour under ideas/laws which placed women as property. The right to vote was achieved less than 100 years ago and in many countries women are still treated as ‘second class’ citizens – discrimination for the most part supported by religious doctrine.

      • There is so much truth in your comment. Sexism and racism have come a long way, but have a long way yet to go. Thanks for your thoughtful insight.

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