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10 Things Not to Say to a Mom Who Kept Her Maiden Name

By marinka |

I did not take my husband’s last name when we got married.

Truthfully, I did not even seriously consider it. It was a combination of not seeing the point of taking my husband’s name and laziness–I liked my last name (and I still do), I was used to it, and I appreciated not having to fill out any additional forms. It was also a time when most of my friends didn’t change their last names when getting married, so it was not a big deal at all. My husband-to-be didn’t care either, saying that it was my choice.

But although he and I were totally fine with my keeping my maiden name, some others that I’ve met during my nearly 15 year old marriage are gobsmacked by the fact that my husband and I have different last names.

My first indication that this was an issue was when our daughter was born in a Manhattan hospital in 1998. I filled out the application for the birth certificate, listing my husband and his different last name as the father and the nurse told me that since we weren’t married, he’d have to consent to his name being placed on the form.  ”But we are married,” I said, as my husband was saying “yes, I consent! That’s my daughter!”  The nurse looked at the form again.  ”Your last names are different,” she told me, as though that was indicative of anything.

But there has definitely been levity too. When my children were younger, one of them asked me if my parents were siblings, since they had the same last name. In their experience, moms and dads had different last names, whereas siblings often shared a last name.

So what’s in a name? To me, it’s my heritage and identity.  To some other people, it’s a lot of confusion and inconvenience.  Here are some comments that I have received over the past nearly 15 years about the fact that I have a different last name from my husband and my children.

1. Did you not think that your marriage would last? Yes, and every anniversary has been a bitter reminder that I seem to be losing that bet.

2. Aren’t your children confused about who their mother is? They know it’s the lady who tells them to turn off the TV and do their chores.

3. Why didn’t your husband demand it (as a sign of respect, commitment, etc.)? Because he wanted to live to see another day.

4. I think having the same last name as my husband is easier. I’m sorry you were under the impression that I’m working on legislation to prohibit women from changing their last names.

5. The kids have a different last name, are you their stepmother? (This was at a pediatrician’s office.) ::still thinking of a comeback to this one::

6. Well, if you get divorced, it will be easier. I’m always thinking ahead!

7. I guess that’s what people did in the 90s, right? Feminism and all that.  It was either this or demand equal pay for equal work. I chose wisely!

8. But no one will ever call you Mrs! It’s one of the many disappointments I’ve had to learn to live with. It gets a little easier every day.

9. Is it some kind of a political statement? Yes, I’m avoiding the New Last Name Tax.

10.  Well, I guess if your husband is ok with it, I’m ok with it. Had I known there was a chance you wouldn’t be ok with it, I would have reconsidered.  Stupid youth!


Get a dad’s perspective on the last name situation over on Babble’s Dadding!

For more Marinka, follow her on Twitter and check out her personal blog, Motherhood in NYC.

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About marinka



Marinka is a wife and mother of two living in Manhattan's West Village. On her personal site Motherhood in NYC, she blogs about her life in New York City, her kids and family, current events, and the art and science of blogging.

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25 thoughts on “10 Things Not to Say to a Mom Who Kept Her Maiden Name

  1. Denise Schipani says:

    I have heard all of these and more. But I have to disagree with #8 — no one will call you Mrs. Because yes they will. Even though Schipani is your (well, my) “maiden” (ha) name, they’ll stick the Mrs. there and call you, to your face and on very chirpy notes, Mrs. Schipani. Because they are teachers and everyone has to be Mrs. Someone, and they can’t call me Denise (the horror of that! Untold!), and for some reason none of these teachers (did I mention they are teachers? Like, with an education and stuff?) ever heard of the honorific “Ms.” So I become, by default, Mrs.Schipani. I’m dying to point out that this is not me, that it’s my mother, but I also want my kids to survive elementary school with the least amount of embarrassment necessary.

  2. Andrea says:

    Well, of course. People completely want to have a say, don’t you know that already Miss? Sigh. Those comments are some of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. Intelligent conversationalists, those individuals!

  3. Marijke says:

    I always find this debate so amusing. Where I live, (Quebec, Canada), women – by law – keep their name. If they want to change it to their husband’s name, they must go through the name change process that everyone else must if they want to change their name.

    Makes sense to me. Your name is your name unless you take the steps to change it. Personally, I would have liked my name to become my husband’s when we married almost 27 years ago simply because I like his better. Funny, huh? When our kids were young and in school, I unofficially used both names socially, but now, all these years later, I’m glad mine is mine.

  4. BakingSuit says:

    Oh fun! I’m not taking my husband’s name when we’re married in August and he doesn’t give a damn either. I can’t wait for what the next how many years will bring. I’ll be sure to use some of these replies. Thanks!

  5. Manager Mom says:

    Been there, done those. So… did your mom imply that your kids would be permanently traumitized by the perception that you didn’t love them and their dad enough to share the same last name, or is that only mine?

  6. magpie says:

    huh. i never get that though once in a while someone thinks i might be “mrs. his-last-name” until i disabuse them of that notion. i went a step farther: not only did i not change my name, but our daughter got my last name. it was our prenup – girls would get my last name, boys would get his. i did get a call from the clerk in the hospital asking if that’s really what i wanted, but no one ever challenged my husband’s paternity. until later – when we enrolled the kid in school, the administration decided that he was obviously the stepfather and not even a legal guardian. i wrote a BLISTERING letter to them about the dangers of making assumptions. that was fun.

  7. Vicki says:

    “But no one will ever call you Mrs!” I wish I hadn’t changed my last name just because of this. I HATE being called Mrs (although it’s only happened once or twice so far.) The worst is when you get wedding invites and they’re to Mr. Husbandfirstname Lastname and Mrs. Husbandfirstname Lastname. It’s like you’re automatically time-transported to 1953.

  8. marinka says:

    @ManagerMom- my mother told me “your father and I discussed it and we want you to change your name.”

    @Vicki- I got a wedding gift addressed to Mrs. HusbandsFirstNameandLastName c/o Miss Marinka Maiden Name. Like I’m my own secretary or something

  9. Tiaras & Tantrums says:

    oh this makes me giggle! I kept my maiden name (1} b/c I like it and it is short 2} b/c my hubbie’s last name is 13 letters long, no way was I going from 4 letters to 13 letters 3}my father died when I was 18 and I wanted to keep it), My husband STILL blisters about my last name especially now that our kiddos want to use my last name instead of his (4 letters vs 13 letters – a hard contest). The kiddos have both last names on their birth certificates and this still bristles hubbie to disgust (I don’t get it though). The only thing that really irritates me is the Mrs Maiden Name. I always reply, “Mrs Maiden Name is my mother”.

  10. Petula says:

    When I married in 2002, my then (yes, divorced now!) husband was INSISTENT on the name change. Even though I’m a writer and didn’t want to change and also wanted to keep the same name as my oldest daughter from a previous relationship as well a connection to my dad who is no longer living. I offered a solution, which was both names with no hyphen. In business I would use just first and last (maiden) and personal life I would use first and married last. Nope. To keep the peace, which became a pattern for me, I gave in. Now I regret it. I want to go back to my last name or at least to two names. Now that I have three children by my ex husband I want my name the same as theirs. I thought if I change it to both then I don’t have to change any of their paperwork and can still have their last name in school, doctors, etc. And all other areas I can be Petula Lloyd. Siiggghhhhh… I’ve gotten used to my married name, the only thing I don’t like is that most people – those educated teachers and professionals – assume we’re married on the rare occasions when we’re in the same room and the same time and being introduced. ESPECIALLY if the younger children are there. Ugh… I don’t wanna be connected to him. LOL

    I hate the last name conversation and get tired of others’ opinions and I love your responses. Come up with some more so I can chuckle some more. :-)

  11. Meghan Gesswein says:

    The equal pay for equal work comment killed me.

  12. Amelia @ Eating Made Easy says:

    Love your top 10 list! People as a whole are not that good at keeping their mouths shut!

  13. Kristen says:

    I didn’t change my last name (husband didn’t care) and about a month or so after I was married my sister called and asked if I had changed my name. When I said no, she said, “Change your name!” I was shocked but had to laugh (especially if you knew my sister). I relayed the story to my mom and dad and my dad said, “Why did your sister change her name?” Love dad!! Again, had to laugh.

  14. kath says:

    Great comebacks!!

  15. Megan says:

    It is vry uncommon to take your husband’s last name here. In fact, they charge you to do so. I guess we just dont have that issue in Quebec lol

  16. Deborah says:

    I kept my madain name, but hyped with my husband name. People always give me these looks.

  17. Amanda says:

    I am not married to the father of my children. (I didn’t feel that being pregnant by the man I love as an automatic reason to marry him.) Our daughter has my last name because we weren’t married at the time she was born. I still haven’t decided if we will be changing our name to his when we do get married before he goes overseas. It isn’t a matter of disrespect to him (although his family would beg to differ and learned the hard way when stating their opinion). I don’t see how my last name is any less than his and may or may not become Mrs. Pentico.

  18. Patricia says:

    The next question ought to be, why is it a given that our children keep their father’s last name. It’s like we don’t exist.

  19. Sai says:

    ugh now I know I’m gonna regret my decision >..<

  20. Polly says:

    Comeback for #5 – They wish!!!! That way I could be the wicked stepmother when they’re grounded!

  21. Mel says:

    I decided to hyphenate my name, but I’ve only filled out half the paperwork, so most of the time I just go by my maiden name, because that’s still what’s on my credit cards and such. It’s such a pain to change everything when you’re 30 and already own a house, car, etc. that I kind of wish I’d just left it alone, except that my son has his father’s last name and I wanted us all to be connected. Where I live hyphenated and maiden names are common, but where I come from they are not and people can’t seem to figure out how to address things to me, especially if it’s for the both of us. Seriously people, how difficult is it to address something to Husband Lastname & Wife Maiden-Lastname? I put it up on facebook as hyphenated, doesn’t that make it official?? hahaha

  22. Regina says:

    Haha! Oh, if only I had known how annoying it is to change your name after getting married, I would have done the same thing! It has been almost a year since I was married and I am still having to call offices and deal with the last name thing. Almost 2 hours at Social Security was bad, but the DMV is worse. I have to pay for a new license and not even get it renewed! The state of Florida definitely makes you pay to change your name.

  23. josh says:

    11. How do you decide what last name to give the kids?

    12. What family name do you put on your house/mail?

  24. Olivia says:

    Love this- I have done the same thing. Married 5 years and am still comfortable with my choice to keep my maiden name. But now that I am a mom- trying to determine with my husband how to handle naming our son. I’d like him to have both names, either hyphenated or not? Thoughts??

  25. Allyssa says:

    My husband and I BOTH hyphenated our last names when we married. You would have thought we blew up the planet the way our parents carried on. It’s been a fun experiment, and it makes us appreciate what the other has to endure. My last name is WHITE sounding + HISPANIC SURNAME, and I swear when people get it wrong, they call me the singular Hispanic portion and when they get it wrong with my husband, they call him the white portion of the name (and he is obviously Hispanic and I am obviously white). We laugh every time. When we had kids we have them the two last names without the hyphen, so my maiden name became a second middle name for them and they just go by his Hispanic surname. We didn’t want them to have to endure the hyphenated-last-name-lunacy.

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