I have never wanted to change my last name. Born a Warren, always a Warren. And I wear the name with pride. It’s my family’s history, and our roots run deep. I’ve always loved that I can walk into a farm show anywhere in the Midwest and hear someone say, “You’re a Warren, aren’t you?” And it is with pride and a true sense of honor that I say, “Yes, yes I am.”
And I’ve always been pretty certain in one thing: I would not change my name when I got married. Whomever I married would become my partner, and we would create a life together — but I wanted to hold on to that connection to who I’ve always been. My name was a major plot element in my story.
The naming of kids never really came into play because, quite honestly, at that point, I’d had my fill of kids. I grew up in a daycare home, and was an aunt by the time I was 10. And now I have 13 nieces and nephews and one great-nephew. For a 31-year-old, that’s a lot. And it kinda kidded me out.
But then something changed.
I started thinking about having kids. One day. Some day. Because, who was I kidding?, I love kids way too much. They make life … well … better. Even on their worst days.
And then, I met a man I couldn’t think of spending my life without. And I wanted to make a family with him, to build a life with him. To share something with him that I’d never shared with anyone before. And I wanted to write a new story with him, as Mr. and Mrs. B.
Deciding to change my name wasn’t an easy decision. And it most certainly wasn’t one I took lightly. I mean, not only is it how I’ve defined myself for 31 years, it’s a lot of paperwork. (And I have so much beautiful “W” stationery that soon will have no home in my stationery box.) Quite honestly, it shocked me when I realized that the pro list of changing my name heavily outweighed the con list. Admittedly, I’d be lying if I said that moving way up in the alphabet wasn’t a factor in the decision.
One of the biggest items on that list, though? I want to share the same name as my children and my husband. And, truth be told, hyphenated names have always sorta stressed me out. For no specific reason. Other than I’m weird.
And giving up my middle name and making my maiden name my new middle name? Out of the question. Because when my parents chose my middle name, they made magic happen.
Let me assure you, I am making this decision to change my name all by myself. This decision is mine and mine alone. There is no pressure from Mr. B — if there were, we probably wouldn’t be together anyway. I know what he would prefer, and I know what I think about the situation. And what I’ve decided doesn’t make him love me any less. To be sure, whether I change my name or keep it the same has no bearing on how “equal” my relationship is with Mr. B. And it won’t make me any less of a woman or daughter or wife or mother or sister or friend or human or feminist.
Someone asked me if I see myself changing who I am as I enter this new chapter of my life’s story, as I become Mrs. B. And, to be honest, I do. I see myself becoming someone new. Because every single day I am becoming someone new. And every single chapter of my life is being written as I live it, to make a whole, complete human story. I should be changed by my experiences — we ALL should be. My past, my present, my future are all part of me and of who I am, who I will be. And the person I am today is different from the person I will be tomorrow. No, my core beliefs and values won’t change; the essence of who I am won’t change.
The same is true for Mr. B. Just because he’s not changing his name doesn’t mean he’s not going to change. Because we both are; we’re both going to change as our lives change together. And we’re committed to growing and to changing together.
Just as I will become a wife, a partner and (hopefully) a mother, Mr. B will be becoming a husband, a partner and (hopefully) a father. And we’ll do that whether I’m Mrs. B or Ms. W.
What’s In A Name?
Am I sad that I will no longer carry my family’s surname? I am. But I am so very happy about the beauty of carrying all that my family has given me into the new arm of my family I will build with Mr. B.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
~”Romeo and Juliet”
Changing my name doesn’t make me any less a Warren, just as not carrying my mother’s maiden name doesn’t make me any less a Wilson. And changing my last name doesn’t strip me of the eyelashes that I inherited from my dad or change the way my squinkle nose makes me look just like my mom. It doesn’t change the way my brothers will always be able to make me laugh or how my sisters will always be my best friends. It doesn’t make me any less proud of my nieces and nephews when they prove what kind, caring and beautiful human beings they are becoming.
My name is part of me, sure. But it doesn’t define me or who my family is. Because, as I said: Once a Warren, always a Warren.
My life is overflowing with love and family, and changing my name — or not — changes none of it.