A little under a year ago, after almost 6 years of marriage, I finally decided to change my last name to my married name. I have used my married name before, like when I go to the tailor or get photo prints made. I had even used my married name at my old just, just after I got married. But I've used my maiden name in the two jobs I've had since then, mostly because all of my ID was in my maiden name, and I didn't want to confuse everyone by requesting that they use my married name. That and I was just plain lazy.
But then when I was pregnant with PK, one week away from giving birth, I had to renew my driver's license, and thought it would be neat if I used my married name. After all, it would be terribly weird if I had a different name from PK (I blame this on years of being brought up as a Catholic). I actually ended up combining my maiden name and the hubby's name, except that instead of having a hyphen, I used a space (I really hate hyphenated last names - apologies to any of my readers with hyphenated last names; it's a personal choice). For about 8 months after the driver's license renewal, every other document I had used my maiden name. But then my passport was up for renewal, so I decided to use my married name. We were also planning on going away for a week to Myrtle Beach that summer, and I wanted to make sure that PK and I had the same last names on our passports. (Aside: I had heard that you can get flack for having a different last name from that of your child. I'm not so sure anymore - so many people have children out of wedlock and the child oftentimes ends up with the father's last name. But I digress...)
And since my passport now had my married name, I thought that I should change my bank accounts so that they had my married name as well. Then I got my Brazilian passport renewed and since my Canadian passport already had my married name, I figured that I should make sure that the names matched. Which meant that I needed to register my marriage in Brazil with my married name before I could use it on the passport. So freaking complicated!
I was totally excited about the name change thing at first. It was really really important for me to have the same last name as PK. But now, I feel like I have a bit of an identity crisis. I feel that by changing my last name, I've lost a bit of who I was before. And yes, I have lost a bit of who I was before. Ten years ago, I was unmarried, childless, just finishing up university, and eager to start my career. Now, I am trying to balance having a career with being a mom and a wife. Some days, it's too overwhelming. And yet, I only have one kid to worry about, and a husband who exemplifies what it means to have a true partner.
So why do I feel so much damned remorse over having changed my name? And moreover, why does it bother me so much, if my last name includes my maiden name? It's not like I'm a feminist or anything. I don't have with women who take on their husbands' last names. I don't over-analyze this whole patriarchal society thing. Yes, things have evolved in a very male-centered manner, but it's not like anyone is forcing us to follow these male-centered traditions. And if we do, then it's our own prerogative. I wasn't even bothered with my name change before. But somehow now it eats at me. Also, if and when PK decides to get married, will I be upset if she decides to drop her last name and take on her future partner's name? I hope with all my heart that it doesn't bother me. After all, if I were in her shoes, I would expect full parental support, no matter what her decision.
Raising A Screen Smart Kid in The New York Times
5 weeks ago