Thursday, December 29, 2011

Name Game Changer

2011, where have you gone?

You know, it was a big year. The Dude and I spent it being engaged, planning a wedding (Well, I planned the wedding) and we had showers thrown for us. We moved downstairs to a bigger and better apartment, planted our first garden, and finally got some more grownup furniture. We adopted Sprinkles and Bea and they've really brightened up our lives. We had our wedding, which was obviously the highlight of the year, and over all I'd say the year was pretty damn good.

We also got more Christmas cards than ever before. I think probably we were fresh in people's minds due to the invitations and thank you cards, all containing our current address. Funny thing, I got many adressed to Mrs. Dude, and Mrs. Dude Duderson. My own name completely obliterated by his. Ah, such is life. I haven't changed my name, nor will I, but I have to accept that this information will be slow in making its way to people and many won't retain it in their memories. I get that even in the modern age, it's still less common to keep your name.

Facebook, though, is handy. My name appears correctly there and that will help, I'm sure. My email will also show up with my correct name, so as I email people, it will reinforce the knowledge. My family also seem quietly pleased I've kept my name. Probably they had already figured I would, as they all posed their question, "Are you keeping your name?" as opposed to, "Are you changing it?"

My own mother hyphenated her name back in the early '80s, when it was definitely rarer to do so. After my parents split up, she went back to her maiden name and still had to endure people calling her Mrs. Berri from people who knew her through my brother or I. I could see it bugged her, but she never made a federal case out of it. When you choose what's right for you and that happens to go against social convention, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches with some grace.

I sometimes wonder about children. Again, I think we're going to be planning for parenthood, but until we're 100% onboard with it, I'm not thinking so concretely. But everyone will expect them to be Dudes, not Berris. I'd love to pass on my name. I love the idea of daughters being Berris and sons being Dudes. Why not?

Well, I know why not. Everyone we know will give us grief. Well, no, not everyone. All our friends would understand if we made this choice. But I think our families would be perplexed. And people on the outside would assume a child with my last name would not biologically belong to the Dude. And if we had one of each, we'd appear as a blended family and have to field questions and assumptions all the time. So what would be right for me as a mother would be so socially unconventional it might not even be worth my while for all the hassle it would cause.

The Dude sometimes likes to joke with people that he's taken my last name instead, and it actually shocks people. Rather than chuckling or asking, "Oh, really?" he gets a, "What?!" So deeply ingrained is it that a man's identity belongs to him and a woman's is tied to her family, and the family she belongs to is her husband's.

I wish we lived in a world that respected choice a little more. We can legally make any family name changes we wish. But that doesn't mean the greater world out there will be supportive or understanding. So as it is, keeping my own name may be as far as I go.


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