This has been something of a struggle for us. Changing our name – sharing a name – has felt important to me during this entire getting-married/becoming-a-family process. As I’ve written before, we aren’t planning on having children, and without children to unite us to the public as a family, the shared last name feels like a big deal. Otherwise, we could just be friends or roommates or coworkers you see hanging out a lot. Who hold hands. And kiss on the mouth. Okay, so maybe not just friends, but still – without children or a name, it feels like a mistake that could be easily made. We will be family and I want that to be obvious.
Okay, so let’s share a last name, no big deal, right? Except, have you met us? Why would we do something that would be simple? When my parents got married, they both took each other’s names, so my parents, siblings, and I all have the same, hyphenated last name; it’s DadsName-MomsName. Let’s say it’s Sparrow-Robin, for simplicity’s sake. So my siblings, parents, and I are the only Sparrow-Robins in the whole world. If you look up Sparrow-Robin online, you’ll get hits that are only people in my immediate family. I am the only Bird Sparrow-Robin, and I think that is really cool.
Turtle’s last name is McTurtleson.** This is not the last name she was born with, nor is it the last name she grew up with. It is her third last name, and it is one that she picked out, and it is very meaningful to her. Plus, it’s a nice name on its own. She has made it very clear that she is not going to give up McTurtleson, and that she is reluctant to change it. This makes sense to me, and I support it. That said, if I were to take it, I would be Bird McTurtleson, which makes no sense in funny blogspeak, so I’m sorry about that, but it’s a relatively common name. Yes, Dr. McTurtleson is a nice name, but I have always loved how unique my name is, and I don’t want to give that up either.
We have two couples that we’re friends with who recently changed their last names, and I’ll say their actual last names here because I can’t come up with other cutesy fake names. Sorry, guys. (Let me know if you want me to take this off and I will be happy to). The first couple is a man and a woman who started out with the last names Fulmer and Anderson. I think they had many conversations about the name changing before settling on creating a new last name… they combined both last names and took a section out: fulmeranderson became Merand (pronounced Mair-and). The other couple is made up of two kickass women whose last names were Smith and Leonard – and they combined them to become the Leonardsmiths.
I love the idea of being the Somethings, the FamilyNames.
At some point recently, we came up with an option that might work. I will shift my name over, and we’ll take the same last name! I’ll drop my middle name and change my full name to Bird Sparrow Robin-McTurtleson – the future veterinarian Dr. Robin-McTurtleson. Yes? And Turtle will be Turtle Robin-McTurtleson.
This all feels complicated, and difficult, and there are so many ties to our names and to our families. I worry that my dad will feel like I dropped him because I won’t be using his name as an obvious part of my name anymore. I worry that my mom’s feelings will be hurt because we won’t share the same initials, as we always have. I worry that no one will be able to pronounce the Robin part of my last name, and that Turtle will have to share in the misery of always having to correct the way someone says half of your name. AND, I want to create a clear connection to the woman I am marrying, but I also don’t want to lose the obvious connection to the family I came from.
What are you doing? Have you thought about this? Does it seem to make a difference if you’re in a relationship with a man or a woman?