Last month, my daughter got married. This week, she officially changed her last name to match her husband’s. She announced it to the family on an iMessage and Hubby asked if she kept Hamilton as her middle name. Nope, her Social Security card no longer bears the name Hamilton. And we’re good with that. But it got me thinking.
I, too, dropped my maiden name when I got married. At the time, many women were starting to keep their names after marriage. Right or wrong, I remember thinking if the guy’s name wasn’t good enough to wear, I shouldn’t marry him. For my husband, taking his last name symbolized a commitment to our new family. So I let go of that identity.
Imagine my surprise when years after my father’s death, my mother decided to add her maiden name to her last name. I didn’t understand it. Thought it was another of Mom’s odd ideas. But like so many other things about my mother, I’m beginning to understand.
Mom always wore a sweater and complained of drafts. These days, I carry a sweater with me everywhere I go. She often complained of her feet hurting. I now suspect she had undiagnosed plantar fasciitis. I understand her pain.
She added her maiden name to her last name. I understand that, too. Is it an age thing, creeping up on me? Maybe the fact that both of my parents are gone leaves me reaching for that old identity, the one I share with my brothers and sisters. The common history, though hundreds of miles now separate us. The shared memories.
I see what Mom probably saw–the progression of leaving one’s family of origin to form a new one, watching children grow up and move on, marriages and the start of more new families. Names can bring a sort of continuity to that changing pattern of life.
I doubt I’ll be re-attaching my maiden name any time soon. But like I told my daughter, my current name is only an alias. That name is good enough to wear, but at heart, beneath this disguise, I’ll always be the name I was born with.
How has a name affected you? Leave a comment and let’s chat!