I have to say that at my age I wasn’t one of them. It may be that because these days women with careers and degrees that they have worked so hard for are opting to keep their maiden names. In my case it wasn’t that I was refusing to take on my husband’s name. It wasn’t that my biggest achievement has my maiden name written on it. It was ... Well, it was a sort of sadness that my identity would get lost in the name shuffle. I had been very proud of my last name. In fact, I used it often as an adjective: a way to describe my personality and my character. My mother definitely used it to describe how much of a family trait I carry. The main of all a strong will.
As the years went by and I saw my friends and loved ones transition with ease I wondered if I’d ever be so quick to shed my name. When we got engaged my husband and I had a few conversations over the subject. He asked if I would take on his name. I guess the look on my face wasn’t thrilling when I said I would; inside feeling a little sad. He said I didn’t have to, that I would be recognized as “Mrs. (fill in the blank)” the moment we signed on the dotted line; that made me relax a bit. Perhaps I didn’t have to do as expected, hell there has been plenty I haven’t done as expected why rush to it then?
I asked my friends what exactly I had to do to change my name. I even bought a “name change kit” from a website specializing in all things “Wedding”. I was warned not to waste my money on it, but did it any ways: unnecessary and a total waste of good money! I thought it would make things easier, but it didn’t! Seeing listed all the things I had to change made me want to yawn, how tedious! I slipped the kit on a bookshelf and every few months I would look at it.
I did eventually change my name. It took an entire 18 months after our wedding to do it; during which I had time to figure out some things.. I figured out that; well, I didn’t figure out that I am a procrastinator. I have known that for a long time. I figured out that I feared losing my identity. I loved my husband but he fell in love with me and not the thought of branding me with his name like cattle. I decided I would be keeping my last name and adding my husband’s name. I solved the issue by moving things over. I wasn’t given a middle name, so I made my maiden name my middle name and added on my husband’s last name.
I did what is customary to do in Mexico. You are given two last names at birth. The father’s last name goes first and second and less mentioned is your mother’s maiden name. When a woman marries they usually drop the mother’s last name and swap it for the husband’s name. I didn’t do it because it’s customary to do it in Mexico. I just really wanted both. So the decision was made long before I took action. I attribute pizza with getting things moving. I had ordered a pizza over the phone and gave my maiden name (my legal name) for the order. My husband was standing close by and had this sad look on his face, as if I was refusing him even to the pizza place. He didn’t say a word, but I felt I had to justify myself. I told him I was paying with a check and thought I should give the name that appeared on the checking account.
The look of disappointment might have been all in my head but it got me to stop dragging my feet. I had already decided what I wanted my legal name to be and now I had just been dreading the time involved to make the change. It took about 8 weeks to get everything squared away. It was as time consuming as I had feared.
If you are wondering if I hyphenated, I didn’t. I joke and say I chose to keep both names separate and use my full name like Hillary Rodham Clinton just to get a rise out of a few people. At the end I did what is fashionable here in the U.S. these days and what is customary in Mexico, but I did it for my own reasons. I kept my name, the name I have been known by for over forty years and simply added to it to honor my husband, our relationship and the extended family I am now a part of.