Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the naming of things


When I was growing up, my parents had different last names (Big deal, right. Everyone has different names these days). My sisters and I took our dad's name while our mom kept with her maiden name for years. I actually don't know why she didn't change it--I suspect it wasn't political as she did do so after about 20 years of marriage. Regardless, and as silly as it sounds, I always hated that my mom and I had different last names. I secretly planned on changing my last name to hers (that is until she changed it) and then secretly hoped that when I got married some day that my future husband and I would take her last name. I am a tried and true mama's girl.

So now I'm getting married. And the guy and I would really like the same last name. We'd like it for us, and we'd like it for our future kids. We know it doesn't really matter. There were three last names in his house growing up and he didn't implode or anything. But it's what we want.

And thus begins the trouble. How on earth do you decide what name to take?

Being very PC, neither of us wants the other to have to take their name. It seems too one-sided. Plus, his last name, quite frankly, makes me shudder every time I have to say it. My mouth does not easily make those sounds. And my last name is boring. Not common or anything, just boring. Although him saying that he felt uncomfortable taking my name because, very unfortunately, politicians he works with would consider him "whipped" made me immediately decide that we NEED to take my name. I can be a little reactionary. And isn't that messed up? But probably, unfortunately, true.

We've considered other family names, but that too feels like picking sides. We've considered combinations of our names, but it seems like Irish and Polish last names don't play nice together. We've considered coming up with a new name entirely, but can't find anything that seems meaningful enough to have it stick.

I can see why people have developed systems for things like this (patronymic, matonymic, family name, etc). Picking a name is a loaded task, and one that doesn't lend itself to settling or easy compromise.

(Tree via PBS.com)

5 comments:

Meg said...

I tried to convince my fiance to take mine. And that didn't fly. So, in the end it was simple, I'm not giving up my name, so that is that. And yes, the poor kids will be hyphonated, I bet. I'm impressed your finace is open to considering it!

Buda said...

I know what you mean! Coming from a family of girls, I always thought I would keep my maiden name since there are no boys to do it. But now the more I think about it, it really is an amazing gesture to take on someone else's name. It's like you are saying ultimately, that I am part of your family now.

I am still undecided.

I just know that I do not want a hyphenated name because my own full name has 4 parts to it and his surname has 2 parts. So with my 4 names and his 2 part surname, my name would be 6 words long!!!

Mary said...

alternately, hispanic families take both surnames, then when individuals with two surnames marry, each one preserves their maternal surname to create a new surname for their family and their future children. for example, if a rodriguez-escobedo marries a fuentes-diaz, the married surname would be rodriguez fuentes (assuming those surnames are from each individual's mother).

Lianne said...

I always liked the idea of both taking a new name, something meaningful that would create a new family. However, my feelings on the subject vary greatly depending on whether or not I like a name, and as my last name is boring and his last name is pretty, I'm probably going to end up taking his name. Prettiness winning out over equality... oh well!

Cassidy said...

We discussed taking a new last name but he decided that he is tied to his gpa (literal name sake). But before we found two names we really liked

Labelle (beautiful)
Lannon (Gaelic from lover)

both apropro for a new life.