What’s In A Name?

Recently, this article about whether married women should give children their surname, or their father’s surname, has been popping up on Facebook.  Any number of my friends posted it, as did I.  Now, obviously I am not married, nor do I have children, but I do carry my father’s name.  Or, as it’s more realistic to think of him, the sperm donor.  I personally never met the man, though there are a few pictures around of infant me in his arms.  Ugh.

My mother very carefully said nothing against my father until she felt I was old enough to understand the shades of gray she seemed to see in the situation.  She was wrong (one of the few times) – I never did see those shades – to me, it was black and white.  I could accept that he wanted a divorce, that he left, even that he had a girlfriend.  However, the absolute rejection of me (and my sisters), including evading child support, made seeing any gray impossible, especially when we were struggling.  Or when I thought I was going to have to leave college as they wanted information from him for financial aid (thank you, Dean Case and Amherst College, for seeing past my snarky comment of “if you can find him, you can take ALL his money as far as I’m concerned”.)

And yet, I carry his name.  I have often thought about changing it, perhaps to my mother’s maiden name.  But then, that’s the name of another man I never knew, though through no fault of his own.  And I can certainly judge his “worthiness” by the children he raised.  So why haven’t  I changed it?  Well, I’ve been working long enough in the same field that many people know me by name, and I’m getting tired of coming up with biting responses to far too personal questions.  And my sisters.  I’m not sure they would like it, as they also carry his name, and I’m not sure they have the same level of resentment that I do.

keep-calm-and-whats-my-name-againIt’s so funny…if I were getting married, the choice to change my name – or not – would be taken for granted.  But as a single woman who thinks of changing my name for my own reasons, I feel like I would have to explain.  I know, I know, that’s my own problem, yet it is a real one.

For now, I’m leaving it alone.  For now.  I’m never really sure what I might do in any given moment, let alone at any time in the future.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kim D. Sherman
    Oct 20, 2013 @ 14:59:47

    I think you should have what ever name you want. That is all.

    Reply

  2. Cath
    Oct 20, 2013 @ 20:01:31

    I agree with Kim. Have you thought of taking your mother’s first name (as your last) if you really wants something that reflects your source. If you ask me, and I am well aware that you have not, I think you are Flora S. through and through. You have always been Flora S., and Flora S. has always been that person who has done and said and acted as you have. You have made a brand yourself. However, those who know you would not be surprised if you chose another name. That, too, would be a Flora S thing to do, just as it was for Flora K.

    Reply

  3. Mary K Klinger
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 06:10:46

    I get this. My name is my name is my name. My father was very present and when I got married I kept my “maiden” name. I liked it. My husband appreciated this was and how I “heard” myself. Had I your issues, I am not sure but that I wouldn’t have changed that pesky last name… Taking my Mother’s I would be Mary Wilson. Not so lyrical. Taking my husband’s I would be Mary Hilow. (very lyrical!) Somehow, Mary Klinger fits me. And, I wish to honor my wonderful father. I am lucky and was able to choose… Well, I did try to change my name to my husband’s once.. The uproar was huge!
    I will love you by any other name. xo

    Reply

  4. Mary K Klinger
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 06:18:26

    Oddly.. My father insists on calling me Mrs. Philip Hilow…. I think he is just so happy I finally married the man…

    Reply

  5. Mary K Klinger
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 06:21:09

    Men are weird.

    Reply

  6. Anne
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 07:35:54

    I like Cath’s very last words. Also, when you know, you will know, and you will act. No doubt.

    Reply

  7. Jensen
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 08:24:14

    I agree with Anne. When you know, you will know, and you will act. The comment that stays with me the most was the one about your sisters, but that may just be me over-reading through my only child eyes. In the interim, unless you are at a bank or airline, Flora or FloraMaria seems mondo wonderful to me 🙂

    Reply

  8. Suzanne Demcisak
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 08:57:30

    I took my husband’s name when I married, although I use my own online. His is easy to pronounce and to spell, mine is so difficult that when I graduated from college, the dean was so confused that he mispronounced my first and middle names, as well. (At his request, I had pronounced it for him the day before, and he had written it down phonetically. I could have saved myself five minutes and had a cup of coffee, instead.) Now that it would be a hassle to change it back, I regret changing it, and I am sorry none of the children have the name. I’d have caught hell from both my husband’s family and mine if the children hadn’t been given my husband’s name. I’m happily married, my husband is an excellent father, and I wish my children had my name. I feel as though I’ve lost something.

    I can certainly understand being ambivalent about having your father’s name. In your place, I would regret any connection with him, too. If it’s any comfort, when I hear your name, I identify it with YOU, and because of you, the name means some pretty special things to me.

    Reply

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