Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Speaking of Name Change...

I wrote in my last post about what my name will be when I'm married (Kinne). I wasn't analyzing what I wrote; rather, I was caught up in one of the fits and spurts of giddiness and excitement that every bride succumbs to occasionally. It interests me now when I am in a more logical mood that I "said" that. Until yesterday (apparently) I hadn't decided if I was going to take Bear's name.

Okay. I was young once - I admit it. And being young, I couldn't wait to change my last name. It's boring, people inevitably ask if I'm related to Marilyn (my last name if you missed it is Monroe). These days the occasional asshole student changes the vowel to "Manroe." Those were the days I went home fuming about ignorant children... as I bleached my facial hair and ironed a skirt to wear the next day. So why not change my name and be happy with it?

Well for starters, I'm the only one of my father's four biological children that has his last name. He has two sons and two daughters. He wasn't married to my brothers' mom, so they got her last name and my sister had a hyphenated name and she dropped the Monroe off of it. So that leaves me. If I don't keep my name what will happen to the Monroe name??
Not to mention that all of my teacher books and private posessions have Monroe written in them. It's who I'm known as in the teacher/college world. I'm Ms. Monroe. How can I just leave that behind? Do I leave Monroe in the books, or cross it out and write Kinne instead?
That may seem like a stupid reason to change a name, but I'm not reasonable when it comes to aspects of me. You know how in families some children are more like one side than the other? My mother's maiden name is Vinal. I'm MUCH more Monroe than Vinal. I'm my father's daughter, as my mother so frequently tells me. If my name becomes Kinne, who am I then?

I read an essay by Anna Quindlen about her decision not to change her name. She didn't do it out of some feminist reason, but because (like me) she felt that her name was part of who she was, and she didn't want to lose it. She did admit, however, that there were some problems as a result of her decision. For example, her children and husband "shared the umbrella of a name," and that left her out in the rain a lot. she said that teachers, nurses and other professionals were always calling her by the wrong name. That makes me think. If I don't take Kinne, does that make me Mrs. Monroe? Mrs. Monroe is my mother, NOT me! I can't keep Miss, though, so do I use Ms (Mizz)? Arg! So frustrating.

I have family members that have gone both ways. Most of the women take their husband's last name, erasing the written connection to the families of their childhood, and moving under the umbrella of their husbands'. A few, like my cousin Carly, have kept their last name and used it as their childrens' middle names. But she and her husband are in business together.... doesn't that confuse customers? I don't know.

In the end, I guess I decided to take Paul's name not to dishonor my family, but to honor his. both of his parents are passed and he is a Junior. Family name is important to him. He is the last of his family, the only boy; I have brothers (they just don't have the same last name). My family would never say that I am dishonoring them by taking Bear's name. As time goes by, I guess I am hearing them more. Bear and I are going to be sharing a life, a future; I like to think we'll be sharing the same umbrella, too.


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