Many little girls grow up knowing that one day their name will change. They'll marry a man and take his name, and they'll become Mrs. So-and-So. It's like a natural part of life. The most thought that ever goes into it is just, does my name sound good with his? Some girls might even go as far as doodling it all over their notebooks.
What they never tell you is how much work it is to update your name. They also never tell you the emotions that may come with what is actually a bigger deal than maybe we ever thought, or at least I ever thought.
I see plenty of girls get married and immediately, with great excitement change their name on Facebook as soon as they have tied the knot. I always wonder if any of those girls ever felt the guilt I have felt in taking my husband's name. It sounds so silly, but yes, I actually feel a little guilty, like I might hurt my parents feelings. I keep thinking, I don't want them to feel like I'm abandoning them. If anything, since I've been married, I feel closer to them.
My mom actually said to me the other week, "Someone told me most girls don't change their names these days, why did you have to change your name?" Not only did I feel guiltier, but I was also offended. Sure, I know plenty of women who have kept their maiden name; but I also know plenty of women who go the "traditional" route. I for one, am a traditionalist in many ways, and this is one of those ways. There was never a moment where I thought I might not change my name. I did briefly wonder if we should combine our names, but it sounded too silly. Although, I've heard that there are some people who are doing that these days.
I started laughing out of frustration as I started the process, because it's SO MUCH work! I don't think men realize this, nor appreciate it. It's a lot of paper work and a lot of time. First you have to go to the Social Security Office (that was actually pretty quick, but you still have to make the time). Then you've got to go to the DMV, which is not quick, even with an appointment, and you've got to go to the bank. If you have cards and accounts at multiple banks, the you have multiple banks to go to. You've got to update your passport, your email addresses, everything you have an online account for, and everything to which you're registered and/or a member of. The biggest kick I got, which I had really not prepared for was learning a new signature! I guess I wasn't one of those girls that practiced all over my notebooks. I was asked on one form to sign my old signature, and then sign my new signature. Some folks pointed out, who really cares or knows what you sign; but I felt like If I'm changing my name I'm changing my name. The only thing I preferred to not change was my initials, because now it's JW. I once met a bull rider named JW, so seeing those initials makes me think of a tiny drunken cowboy.
Not really to any fault of his own, since he doesn't have to deal with it, I just really don't think my husband understands or appreciates the effort that goes into taking his name, because it's just what happens when you get married--the woman changes her name. Although, he did confess to me that at one point he was afraid I wouldn't because I'm such an "independent woman." He actually seemed to be relieved I was. Still, I don't know if any man truly appreciates the significance to their wife of changing her name. Beyond the physical time and efforts, there's an emotional ride you've got to take through this process. I'm still the same woman, but my identity has changed. I'm still my parents daughter, but things feel slightly different now. I'm still my brother's sister, but we have different names now. I'll always be me, but it truly feels like I finished Book I and am starting Book II. I've been one person my whole life. I mastered and perfected that signature preparing for the day I might see my name in lights, and now I've got to master and perfect a whole new signature.
I'm sure I'm being totally silly, but as I continue to update my name I can't help but miss the little girl in me who could crawl up in my daddy's lap while he watched Star Trek, and who played dress-up with my baby brother. I'm still part of that family of four aren't I? It's a silly thought, I know; but then I remind myself, I'll always be my daddy's little princess, but even awesomer now is that we're a family of five and God-willing we'll keep growing. I'm very blessed in that my husband has really become a member of our family. He shares clothes and shoes with my brother, and he likes going to Costco with my parents like my brother and I used to as kids. Of course,
So, what's in a name? A name says a lot of things. My first name defines me. My maiden name built a very strong foundation of values to carry on as my new surname builds a future.
For any gentlemen that may be reading this, if your wife has taken your name, I encourage you to thank her for it and show her your appreciation for it, because it's more than just a name.
BIG LOVE & HUGS