I don’t share a last name with my child and it doesn’t matter
My three-year-old recently informed me that her new baby sister won’t be able to have the same last name as her.
“There are already two of us,” she said. “Me and Daddy. She’ll need a different name.”
I wasn’t included, of course, because my last name is different.
I didn’t change m name after I got married, which puts me in the minority of married women. According to a 2016 YouGov poll, nearly 60% of women would prefer to take on their husband’s surname after marriage. When we got engaged and I raised the issue with my now-husband, he said, “I’ve known you with that last name for the past six years. Why would you change it now?” And I was like, “Yup, that’s pretty sound logic.”
Nothing was changing, after all, besides the fact that we were going to have a stupidly expensive party and sign a piece of paper. Despite the fact that I kind of liked the idea of having a Hispanic last name, if only to fulfill my 12-year-old fantasy of being Puerto Rican (I was VERY into West Side Story in middle school), it didn’t really make sense.
My inner feminist wouldn’t have been that comfortable with a name change either. Even as I contemplated it, I could hear her going, “Hey lady, you don’t belong to this dude.” I’m not saying that women who choose to change their name think they’re their husband’s property – many of my friends have, and they’re badass feminists – but that’s where the whole tradition started, and it would be hard for me to get past that.
Having a double-barreled surname was also out of the question, since we both have longish last names that would sound terrible together. Plus there was the tricky question of the order of names. In Puerto Rico, where my husband is from, a married woman’s surname is usually her husband’s last name first with her maiden name second. In the UK/US, it’s the other way around. Either way, it would have been a hell of an awkward name with seven syllables.
When we were expecting our first daughter, the whole name issue came up again – and again, we rejected the idea of a double-barreled name for practical/aesthetic reasons. To keep things simple, we just gave her my husband’s last name. When the new baby comes, she’ll have his name too. I’ll be the odd one out. Well, me and the cat. I had to register our cat at the vet and they gave him my last name. This is an animal who pees in our bathtub and eats plastic, so he’s the last one in this house who I want to be associated with.
Does it bother me? Yeah, a bit. Not enough to change my name, but enough to feel a little bit bad that my daughters won’t have mine. Though if my second daughter is anything like my first, she’ll have lots of other things of mine, like my unruly wavy hair, my love of stories, my distrust of strangers and my obsession with cheese. When you carry someone inside of you for nine months and give them half of their genes, you’re undeniably linked – regardless of the names on your passports.