letting go of your last name

After eight months of dragging my feet, I finally changed my last name. Well, it's almost changed completely. The folks at the cable company demand I come down to their branch and show proof. But otherwise, at least to all the important United States government agencies, my bank, my school, and Facebook, I'm Jennifer Scott.

I'm interested if anyone else went through the same existential, emotional experience when beginning the process of changing their names? I almost shed a tear at the DMV. The woman, who could not have cared less, just took my forms, stamped them out, took $20 and sent me on my way with monosyllabic exchanges. I was trying to hold it together and not draw attention from the scowling security guard nearby.

But seriously, my name! Jennifer E. Jones. If you google it just like that, a lot of my old writing comes up. A lot of my journalistic career is there. You can see my picture. It's probably a little more public than I'd like it to be, but nevertheless, it's mine.

There's even a song written about my name!

Not to mention the self-righteous, feminist indignation of it all.. I found myself grumbling, "Why do I have to change my name? What doesn't he change his? What's with this bogus, sexist system set up for women to abandon their identity?!"

The obvious question is, "Well, why did you change it?" After all, it's not 1962. A lady can keep her name, especially if you got married later in life as I did. Plus, my husband was fine with my name as it is. He never pressured me either way. One night when I was sitting in a pile of all the name change forms, he kissed me on the forehead and said, "You don't have to do this."

Then, why did I? Here are a few reasons.

1). I'm an introvert who, at times, is prone to self-isolation. However, marriage is a team sport for life. Or rather, as I like to say, we're now a tribe, and tribes have one name. Different positions within the tribe, but, again, everybody has one name. It's for the sake of solidarity.

2). I don't want to figure out what to call my kids. I just don't have time for that. They get the tribe name too.

3). It's not a bad choice. If I met a guy with the last name Nasalbum, then, yeah. I can live with Scott. It's almost as common as meeting a guy with the last name Jones (came dreadfully close in college).

4). It helps with the change. One thing people omit in the midst of wedding bliss is how different your life will be after "I do". You have to learn how to be a husband a wife, how to be lovers, and how to be roommates.  I'm not saying it's hard; I'm just saying it's different. It's change.

5)... which closely relates to #4. It helps you let go. With all the change may come a sense of loss. I feel it. I was independent for a long time before my husband came around. I was used to my stuff, my time, my this, my that. Some of those things weren't necessary to bring into marriage. We can't have two homes and two beds. Kind of excessive. Granted, a name is more than a practical thing, but you still don't need an extra one.

So, it's true. I lost a bunch of things when I got married. I lost my apartment, my bed, my last name, my self-imposed right to be moody and unreasonable in the morning. But I gained so much more. I gained the kind of love and companionship that I seriously did not believe existed. I got an extra set of a family. Not to mention the added income.  Just a bunch of happy pluses that add up to more than what I had before.

I'm letting it go, all of it. We had a good run. After all, if being Miss Jones was this awesome, can't wait to see what awaits Mrs. Scott.



  1. Love, love, love that you're blogging again and love that Mrs Scott made it to the blog :)

  2. I remember the bittersweet feelings I had when I changed my surname after my wedding. I vacillated between including my birth name and/or adopted name with my married name, but that would've made it too long and complicated. (Long story.) Then I wondered if I should replace my middle name with my maiden name. Nahh...

    What gave me peace was the realization that it was time to close the previous chapters of my surname and start a new life chapter that would identify me with my husband. The way I saw it, God chose my husband to be the priest, leader and provider of our home. My biological father and adopted father no longer had that position in my life. I am now "covered" by my loving husband, which to me is symbolic of having an extra covering of God's grace!

    Besides, what really matters is that I identify myself with Christ's name and live my life accordingly. (I also love being addressed formally as "Mrs. ...")

  3. Changing my last name wasn't hard at all. I was happy to become one with the McGee tribe. It just made sense. What was infinitely harder was all the adjusting to the shared life that it comes with. Having a rhythm now is nice and comforting but I couldn't honestly say that unifying was/is perfectly seamless. Two independent people now under one unified roof makes for great sitcom or drama show material, depending on the day.

  4. Hmmmm try changing it 3 x....lol. Glad you now have my maiden name : )


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