There's a conversation going on on CafeMom right now about whether or not it matters if your kid's last name matches yours, and I had to jump in, because, man, do I know this situation. My daughter's last name is different than mine. Not much different, but different enough. I go by "Fabian-Weber", while she's just "Weber". I didn't want to give her a hyphenated name, as, let's be honest, it is a mouthful; but also, if she wants to hyphenate her last name some day, things could get tricky. Fabian-Weber-Smith? Too much.
Originally, I didn't change my name at all. And my husband was fine with it. But when we started discussing having kids, I thought it would be nice for all parties if I had "Weber" in my name, too. And so I went through all the annoying red tape and took off of work so I could sit in a courtroom in Brooklyn all day and changed my name.
But now I sometimes feel like it's still not enough.
Growing up, everyone in my household had the same last name. We were all Fabians. My parents were old school Italians, and I seriously doubt the conversation of whether or not my mom should change or hyphenate her name ever came up. When my friends came over, it was "Hi, Mrs. Fabian"; and when we went on school trips, "Fabian" was the last name my mom signed on the permission slip. She was my mom and her last name matched mine perfectly. When my daughter gets older, it won't be that simple for her.
I'm not overly worried about the whole "signing them out of school" thing that everyone always talks about. My last name does have "Weber" in it, and I hardly think I'm the only person in the New York City area to hyphenate their name. But sometimes, like when her grandparents refer to her as a "true Weber", it creates a sort of divide. I gave birth to her. Why don't we have the same last name?
On the other hand, I feel like changing my last name would send the wrong message to my daughter. No disrespect to people who take their husband's last names -- many friends of mine have taken their husband's surname, and like I said, my mother did, as well -- but it's just not "me". Not only do I feel like my maiden name is a big part of my life -- I grew up with that name -- it connects me to my mother, who died three years ago. Also, I don't want to feel like I've become a completely different person after getting married and having kids -- and I feel like that's how it may look to me on paper were I to change my name.
If my daughter wants to take her husband's last name when she grows up, that's a-okay with me. Her name, her choice. A goal of mine is to always respect her as an individual, and remember that she's not an extension of me. We're two different people. But I hope she understands why her mom has a different last name than her -- and eventually respects it, too.
Do you have a different last name from your baby?
Image via Varin Tsai/Flickr