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What's In A (Family) Name?

Does your family share a last name?

My kids have beautiful first names. Names that I’m proud of, that I delight in saying aloud and seeing written.

But their last names. Ow. They’re hobbled with a big, clunky feminist compromise of a last name.

I have my own name. Their dad has his. The kids got both. Which means not only do they have clunky last names, but we don’t share a family name. I can’t imagine having taken my husband’s name at marriage, but there are times when I wish my whole family shared one simple last name.

Sarah at Reproductive Rites is feeling none of that pain. She’s contending with people who call her “Mrs. Partner’s-Last-Name” when she’s not a Mrs. and that isn’t her name. I’ve bristled at being called Mrs. Partner’s-Last-Name myself, and I love the power of her words on this.

At the same time, being Mrs. Partner’s-Last-Name would offer us a kind of united front in all the paperwork of the world. As it is we’re spread out through the alphabet. On paper, it’s not obvious that my kids and I are even related. My husband and I have no name in common at all. This hasn’t caused any practical problems for us. I sometimes worry that I’ll be challenged when I call the utility company and claim to be his wife but no one ever has. It just feels a little weird when I fill out forms, as I’ve done a hundred times this week for summer camp.

I’m proud to have my own name, but sometimes I wish I shared it with my family.

Did you take your husband’s name? Do you and your kids share a last name? Do you have any regrets about your decision?

Photo: cacophonyx

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