I didn’t change my last name when I got married, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t really see the point. My mom didn’t take my dad’s name, even if her reasons were ideologically based and arguably more admirable than mine were, so I was pretty darn aware that it wasn’t a necessary part of the I’m-becoming-a-wife process. Good modelling, Mother. I’ll go read Our Bodies, Ourselves and eat some buckwheat noodles now.
Lately, though, I’ve started to think about what we’ll do if/when we have kids. I like the idea of there being some sense of nominal cohesion within the family unit, and my husband’s pretty set on our future offspring bearing his surname. I’m not opposed, but I don’t want to be the odd one out. So I’ve toyed, on and off, with the idea of renouncing my most conspicuous connection to the illustrious history of my Acadian ancestors. Then I remind myself that I’m the daughter of an opinionated feminist ex-hippy and that I don’t want to be disowned. The fact that I’ve published and presented at conferences using my current name is also a consideration.
I was eating a donut and reading an excellent article about fraternities in the Atlantic the other day when it hit me: I could take my husband’s last name as a middle name. For that matter, he could, if he so desired, take mine as his. That way he, I, and potential little Kathleens/Andrews would all have a name (or two) in common. I proposed this to him hesitantly, honestly not thinking he’d go for it. “Could be interesting,” he replied.
And that’s what we’re going to do: I’ll be Kathleen Hislastname Mylastname, and he’ll be Andrew Mylastname Hislastname (technically speaking… it’s not like we use our middle names very often, so it won’t change much in terms of how we represent ourselves to others). Maybe it’s a strange solution—I won’t call it a compromise, since neither of us feels that we sacrificed—but it’s one that’s right for me and, luckily, for Andrew, too.