Sunday, November 22, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 22: Deciding to change my last name

Yesterday's post...I apologize for not being perfectly on schedule. I definitely underestimated how many days I would have where I just straight up did not have time to write. I am finding that I have to sacrifice other important things in order to get these entries done, which I'm not always willing to do.

I've talked about it before, but Anthony and I knew pretty early into our relationship that we wanted to get married. It was one of those cases of "when you know, you know." It still sounds silly to me, but it really was just like, "Yep, this is it!"

The first of several times I accidentally signed my maiden name instead of my married name!


All of this is to say that I knew very early on that I would take Anthony's last name when we got married. I didn't really think about it too much, other than sometimes letting my inner 14 year old girl take over by practising what my name and signature would look like.

Just a disclaimer that I am not going to use my last name in this entry as I don't like turning up in Google searches. I am fairly certain that I am the only Jaime "Last Name" that ever existed, making me that much more wary of using it here.

I'm not a traditional person in most ways, but taking Anthony's last name was important to me. I like the idea of sharing a family name and having my marriage be part of my public identity. We dated for over 5 years before getting married and in all that time, I didn't question it whatsoever.

That's why I was surprised when I found myself doubting the decision.

A few months before we got married, I had to apply for an employee ID card at work. I knew I wouldn't be getting the card until after we were married, so I had to ask my work to make the card with my new last name. Sending the email requesting it was surprisingly difficult. I stared at my words on the screen, not totally confident I wanted to take the plunge. I decided to take a night and sleep on it. I felt marginally better about it the next day, so I sent the email. That card was the very first thing I signed in my new last name.

The rest of the cards I needed to change did not present quite the same struggle. Still, it was weird to see a different last name next to my first name.

It hasn't helped that Anthony's last name is very Italian. If you see the spelling of it first, it's difficult to guess how it's pronounced. If you hear it first, it's even harder to spell. My own guess prior to our meeting was hilariously wrong. To this day I won't repeat how I thought it was pronounced, because I'm embarrassed at how incorrect it was. Anthony doesn't even know.

Having people constantly botch my name is annoying, although I know I am in good company as it's a common problem with surnames. I guess I've just been spoiled up until now.

My maiden name, Perry, is pretty generic and aside from the rare "Jaime Terry" showing up on things, I didn't usually have a problem. I now have to spell my first AND last name, usually twice for people. I realize it's not the worst problem in the world to have, but it has made accepting my new last name more difficult.

My other issue is that as far as I know, I am 0% Italian. I realize it's "just a name" but I've been calling myself a faux Italian as it feels weird to have a different ethnicity attached to my identity.

Of course, there is a Seinfeld episode that covers this exact problem:



If I ever give you a recipe for pasta or pizzelles, you may want to throw it in the trash. ;-)

If you have known me long enough, you may remember that I took my ex-husband's last name when I was previously married. I felt like it was a pretty seamless transition as his surname was English/Scottish and easy to pronounce and spell. I figured taking Anthony's last name would be as easy at that was, but since I am not even remotely Italian, it's been a lot more difficult.

My other problem is that taking a man's last name seems like a very outdated idea. I take issue with the fact that many men, my husband included, aren't even willing to discuss changing their last name after marriage. Why should we as women be expected to do something our husbands are not? And the idea that I'd be still be using my "maiden" name, like I'm some virginal young girl and not a grown-ass woman.

After considering all of these things, I still wanted Anthony and I to share a last name, so I just went with it. It's not a perfect solution, but I have made peace with it. I do really enjoy sharing his name and being "The Last Names." I also would really like to visit Italy sometime in the near future so that I can feel more connected to my phony Italian heritage. I need to find some low carb Italian recipes because it'd be nice to try cooking something Italian for Anthony.

Anyway, I hope none of this comes across as me having an opinion either way about whether women should or shouldn't keep their maiden name. I think the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and make the decision that you can live with.

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