Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Name Change Game

Mornings are my time to think. To be alone in the silence of our home with a cup of something hot. To sit and gather my thoughts for the day. Prepare myself mentally for what is ahead. Sometimes I go on walks, like today. I clear my head. I breathe in the air and feel myself grow taller. I run things through my mind. I notice the little things. I observe our neighbors houses. I contemplate going back to get my paddle board if the water is flat. I watch the cars go by and wonder where they go so early in the morning.

It suddenly occurred to me this morning as my feet hit the pavement and small rain drops hit my head, that I will no longer be "Maria Powell".  In 142 days I will give up my last name. That is a weird concept.

For 28 years I have been called the same name (well, that is if people can pronounce it). And all of a sudden, with an announcement and some signed papers, I will be someone entirely different. "Maria Coughlin". I don't know yet if it rings. It sounds strange.  But I imagine, that like a new pair of shoes,  I will get comfortable with the feel over time. The name will flow. I will be proud to carry this new last name. And I will feel connected to my new family - the one in which we created as a couple and share in the same name.

My curiosity got the best of me though. I started researching the different ideas and perceptions about changing your name when you get married. I personally have a hard time with what to keep as my middle name. In fact recently there are all these people asking me about what name I will keep as the middle... Do I keep my true middle name that I love and identify with because it is unique and now is branded into my photography business? I love "Burton". It is from my mom's side of the family. It was her brother and father's first name.  I have a connection to it.

Or do I keep my last name as my middle name because it is such a part of who I am and a reminder of where I came from? My personality and looks some say are the spitting image of my dad's mother, and she carried that last name. So do I keep that to honor my dad's side of the family?

From some brief research this morning, there are many opinions out there. There are feminist views that you should keep your own last name. The writer in this feminist article argues that by not changing her name it signifies that her marriage is equitable. I disagree. I am an independent woman and I do not think that by taking my husband's last name that our marriage, careers, or responsibilities will not be equal because I gave up my last name. When we get married we become a team…in fact, as a couple, even now without marriage, we are a team. Teams carry the same name. 

Some people decide to hyphen their last name. Honestly I don't see the point in it. And seriously, how confusing and long winded is that for your kids. Life is confusing enough. If you don't have kids, I guess that is another story.

The whole making up another last name really isn't an option I would even consider. Then you both have no identity to your families or where you came from. That is the idea of a name I think. To provide a connection. An identity of who you are and where you are from.

And so I have 142 days remaining to claim the name "Maria Burton Powell". To say it with pride and humility and joy. To recognize that in 142 days Andrew and I will pledge the same name. Same team.

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