Today is my wedding anniversary. MrFCS and I have been married for 16 years today. It's been a good ride. I hope it's long from over.
I was thinking about it in terms of 'that's the day I went from Miss X to Mrs Y', though honestly, I used Ms. before and since. And that got me thinking about name changing with marriage. I did it. I know, Bad Feminist! No cookie! It didn't even take much thinking. I guess the biggest reason was my previous name was rather unusual, at least in my neck of the woods, and I dealt with spelling it at everyone and getting misspellings and mispronunciations of it back at me. It drove me nuts. I was happy enough to ditch it for that reason alone. Now I have a nice easy, one syllable, commonly used word.
When I was a kid, that name got me teased. Kids riffed on it and bugged me about it. I hated that so much. I was a really sensitive kid and it was damn easy to make me cry. I hated that my name was something they could use against me. I got married when I was not quite 21, and these memories were still with me.
When I got married, I had just had a baby. It is really hard to have a different last name than your children. It was only a couple of months before we got married, and JEEEZ.
I briefly considered hyphenating my name. But I realized that it would sound like a place name and then I'd be Ms. North Haverbrook (Simpsons reference!*) and that would make me sound like a beauty queen. Um, no.
And despite all that, sometimes I regret it. When Dad was dying, it was incredible how quickly I reverted to using my old name when talking to doctors. Without thinking. And when he was gone, I wished I still had his name. And now my name is common enough that I know of two other people in the city with the same name. That never happened to me before. In fact, when I searched my old name on Facebook, mostly I found black, male football players from the US. And a jazz singer. That was pretty much it. I kind of miss having my unique name. Though I imagine that would disappear the first time I said it to someone and they looked at me like they were wondering if I was playing a joke on them or if they'd heard it wrong. Nope, that's not something I miss at all.
And from a feminist perspective, I find it almost a non-issue. I mean, yes, it's weird that the woman becomes part of the man's family, and not vice versa. But to me, it boiled down to having one man's name (Dad) or another's (MrFCS). Really, what difference did that make to me?
I've seen some great compromises. I know one family where the couple have their birth names, and their kids alternate which name they have. That's pretty nifty. I imagine it causes some confusion though. (So, he's her kid and the other one is his. Must be a blended family! Um... no.) The best one I saw, the couple decided on a new name together while preparing to get married. They considered hyphenations, blends (e.g. He's Mr. Breakfast, she's Ms. Lunch, they're Mr and Ms Brunch - I'm hungry, shut up), and eventually, just went with a word that was meaningful to them. I thought it was brilliant. Completely screwing with anyone trying to do geneology, but too bad! :)
*It is my deepest belief that there is an appropriate Simpsons reference for every single situation.