My 3 year wedding anniversary is in a couple of weeks. I’ve been married to my husband for 3 years. And I’ve had his last name for less than 2.
There were a lot of surprises about marriage. (And I’m not talking about “Oh, he doesn’t put the toilet seat down.” Ha. Child’s play.)
Perhaps the biggest surprise about marriage, was how much I DID NOT want to change my last name.
Let me get this straight: it had nothing to do with my complete love for my husband. I was and always will be proud to be his wife.
I finally bit the bullet and changed my name when I was 9 months pregnant and had been married more than a year. Why? Because I knew I wanted to have the same last name as my daughter. (Oh, and the upside of being stubborn and complicated? Pregnant women get priority at the DMV. You’re welcome.)
So why did it take me so long to do what seems to come so easily for most women?
For awhile, I was quick to blame lack of time whenever my husband asked why I hadn’t changed my name yet. “Oh, right. I need to do that! So. Much. Paperwork. Ok, I’ll get to it soon.”
Slowly, he started to catch on. After about a year (he’s patient with me), he pressed the subject. And I copped: I don’t want to change my name.
He was hurt and I knew it was time to show him my heart.
I had spent the last 33 years figuring out who I was, and I had done a pretty damn good job. I knew Suzanne Maiden Name. She was comfortable, like my favorite gray tee that is threadbare and faded, but can clean up pretty nicely when paired with the right shoes. And still fits perfectly.
We had history. LOTS of it. We have gone through shit. I mean, we went through 6th and 7th grade and dealt with that snotty bully. We went through glasses and braces and bad boyfriends. And much, much more.
My maiden name connected me to my family. Without it, would I still be one of them? Because I like them. They’d grown on me throughout the last three decades.
So, what happens to Suzanne Maiden Name when I become Suzanne Married Name?
I was used to being in the middle of the alphabet. It’s nice and snug there. Not too exposed. Now, just like that, I’m near the end of the alphabet. What does this mean for my life?
What is Suzanne Married Name all about? How does she think? Does she like the same amount of cream in her coffee? Is she still a little ditzy? Does she take herself too seriously? Is she afraid? Does she worry too much?
These are the thoughts I shared with my husband that day he asked, and they’re the questions that swirled in my head while I wasn’t waiting in line at the DMV.
My husband didn’t have the answers. Neither did my mom. (I checked. It turns out that’s just what I do, no matter my last name.) No one could help me answer these heavy existential questions.
Fast forward 6 months. I was now a mom to a 5 month old baby girl.
And somehow, over the course of those early months of motherhood and while stumbling through the toughest chapter of my life, I had been unexpectedly introduced to Suzanne Married Name.
Today, I am proud to be Suzanne Married Name.
What does that mean?
It means I am a wife and a mother. It means I have a loving, supportive, funny, hard-working husband who will try his damnedest to understand me and all of my quirks and who will watch Bravo and eat chocolate with me. It means I have a spirited, feisty, cuddly, delightful daughter who blows kisses to bugs and says ‘hi’ to the sunshine.
It means I am STRONG, hopeful and filled with gratitude.
And it means I have my own little family who fill my heart with so much love sometimes I think it might actually burst.
It turns out, I was so busy focusing on what I would LOSE by changing my name, I didn’t realize what I would GAIN.
Oh, and if you’re wondering: I’m totally still a little bit ditzy, worry a little bit too much, and take just enough cream in my coffee.