parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Saturday, September 09, 2006
    Names
    as is well known from parens binubus, i am divorced, and my daughters' father lives far away.

    when i married the ex, i changed my name to match his. The children were born, and they (of course) had the same name. When my older daughter, Emz, was approximately 1.5, my Ex and I considered changing our last name.

    Why?

    Because when my Ex was 9, his mother changed HIS name from that of his biological father (who divorced his mother when Ex was 3) to his step-father's name.

    His step father was not, in my opinion, an excellecent substitute father. In fact, in my opinion, he did a Shitty Job.

    His step-father's name is not a good name, either.

    It's more like..... Fireman. Or ..... Curbside. That kind of compound word that is a part of every-day life, and that provides much fodder for childhood playground teasing.

    His biological, given name, however, was more like ..... Sterling. Or perhaps, Marshall. Maybe even, Washington. A good, solid name. One that sort of reeked of class and provided no teasing possibilities.

    In the end, however, after filling out the official forms for all 3 of us (this was before our second daughter, Julez, was born), we decided that the act of changing all of our names would cause way too much animosity with his mom and step-father, who were, without a doubt, a much more integral part of our lives than his abandoning, selfish, icky father.

    So we didn't do it.

    I did, however, always resent the fact that his mother changed HIS name to that of his step-father. Mostly b/c I knew that the reason was that she was made nauseous every time the school called asked for "Mrs. [good name]" b/c of the bitterness she has not yet (30+ years later) let go of as pertains to her ex-husband. It had nothing to do with Ex (who was NINE!!! hello??? your CHILD??), or his well-being, or his future.

    So I resented it. Among many other things that had been done to him or had been withheld from him by his mother and step-father.

    ____________________________

    When I divorced the ex, I couldn't wait to rid myself of the wretched compound-word name that I had taken for 7+ years. I started using my maiden name again pretty quickly after the split, but couldn't do the more official things (banks, social security, etc) until the divorce was final, and that took approx 3 years. I couldn't wait to get my name back. by the time i did, beloved and i were together, and looking long-term - but i knew that there was no way in HELL, regardless of whether we ever decided to shove aside our hatred (yes, hatred) for the institution of marriage and tie the not -- change my name.

    _____________________________

    The girls kept their father's name. and i felt pretty confident that i would never take any steps to make it otherwise, since my resentment toward his mother was so strong.

    However.

    isn't there always one of those? if there wasn't ... would this post exist?

    ______________________________

    the other day, the girls and I were walking home from school, and Emz told me that she wants to take MY name on. She no longer wants her father's name. She said 1) my name SOUNDS better (she's told me that she's been made fun of for her name); and 2) when people ask her about her family, she thinks about me, beloved, and Julez. She said she doesn't even think of her father until way later ... and she doesn't understand why she has to have HIS name, when she feels more like MY daughter.

    and, it sounds better (it does sound better).

    I told her that i wanted her to talk to me about it again in a month. that i'd never heard anything from her about this before ..... despite the fact that her SISTER, goes with a hyphenated name. She uses both. Emz didn't want to - she "hates dashes." (good thing she doesn't read my blogs). I said that I didn't think that this was a small issue, and I was not willing to do anything about it for her to change her mind again in another month.

    She was mad. She said no one ever lets her make her own decisions ... and that she's 10 now, and doesn't understand why she can't decide this for herself.

    ___________________________

    My thoughts? I think I can pretty easily change her name USAGE in school without doing anything permanent. I think I just have to go there, let them know - hey - my kid wnats to use my name, not her father's -- and it's done. The Ex would not be happy if he knew ...

    but he won't know. he doesn't call them, he doesn't write them, and if he does - he doesn't LISTEN to them.

    But is that sneaky? I'm not "changing her name" - if we do this, this year ---- she can un-do it very easily whenever she wants. And if when it's time for her to head to college, and if she still wants to go with my name, we can consider an official change.

    It's really NOT the same as changing her name to that of her step-father ... she doesn't want Beloved's name (and there's the main point - SHE DOESN'T WANT - we're not doing anything TO her - this is her request.) (but uh, she's 10. Not even.)

    When the Ex's name was changed, he had no choice. He didn't ask for it, and from what he told me, he didn't want it. The name he took on had nothing of his heritage or identity in it. If it was his mother's maiden name, I think it would have been different.

    Say his mother's name was Smith. If people said, "huh, Smith. any relation to Joe Smith, the famous baseball player?" He could say "nope, my family has no ties to them" without having to say "it's my step-father's name, not mine" Or if people say "oooh, Smith. Is that English?" He doesn't have to say, "no, actually, it's German, but I'm not. I'm Polish and Cherokee." or whatever.

    If she has MY NAME --- not only is it truly her family, but it's "her" family ... the side she looks like, the side she acts like, the side she's strongly connected to.

    The reason why I put it off for a month is becuase it's very likely that in a month, she'll say "huh? change my name? why would I do that?"

    but i won't even ask .... it's for her to bring up again.
    posted by Zuska @ 5:29 PM  
    2 Comments:
    • At Monday, September 11, 2006 7:41:00 PM, Anonymous Lyco said…

      testing

       
    • At Monday, September 11, 2006 7:47:00 PM, Anonymous Lyco said…

      Ok, now that I can figure out the comments, I can finally say something. Albeit not with my picture :)

      So I have my stepdad's name. Maiden name that is. My stepdad was a goodfornothing jerk. And his last name is long. And oddly southern. I was so glad to get my husband's last name and feel like my name reflected a place of love.

      Well... until my husband turned psycho and dropped of the face of the planet. Now I'm back to my stepdad's name (I guess - I haven't fully made the transition with SS, etc.) and I feel oddly happy about it. I realized that in the time between being born and now, something odd happened - I made it my name. Everyone called me by that name and it became a defining aspect of my identity. As awkward as it was.

      So I guess what I'm saying is that I can understand where your daughter is coming from; it's a tough spot. But no matter what, it seems like it can be a good experience. If I could have changed my name like that as a child, I think it would have made me happier. On the other hand, the name I kept became my own, and that is a reaffirming experience in its own right. Weird names do that, I guess.

       
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