Saturday, May 30, 2015

From Mrs. to Ms: My name change

“If I am going to tell a real story, I am going to start with my name”-Kendrick Lamar

 Almost three years ago, I became divorced. Last month I changed my last name back to my maiden name. This was the last move in my transition away from my identity as a married woman and to a woman who had been married. Now I am simply a woman. My identity is no longer tied to my relationship status and I do not have to explain to people where my last name comes from. On a side note, I learned the phrase, "Mi nombre es de mi ex-meido" so I could reply in Spanish, “My name is from my ex-husband.” My ex-husband has moved on and so have I. We are a parenting unit to our son, but we are no longer a Mr. and Mrs. 

I do not know of one single woman who has gotten a divorce and has changed her name back to her maiden name. Whether or not they have a kid, every woman that I know who has went from a Mrs. to a Ms. has chosen to keep the name of her ex-husband. My mother, other family members, several friends, famous ex-wives, and associates. So why did I decide to not follow that path?

To be honest for two out of the past three years I was planning on keeping my last name. I wanted to have the same last name of my son and I had a fear that if we did not have the same last names, I would somehow lose my identity as his mother. I also told myself that I had built this life under my married name and I did not want to do all the work that I felt that I would have to do to change it. Also I has spent two years rebuilding myself physical, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally after my divorce, that my name was the last thing on my mind.

But about a year ago my maiden name had started to call me. Maybe I was getting tired of explaining my name. I had been divorced for 2 years and yet I still had to talk about my ex-husband almost weekly. I bet he did not have to explain that he had been married before every time he told someone his name.  Also the universe had started sending me signals. All of a sudden different people would ask me why I didn’t change my name back and I started to read about other woman who had gone back to their maiden names.

I started to think that this would be the best time to do it. I am in grad school and having my maiden name on both my Bachelors and Masters degrees would be awesome. I have started to do more writing and anything that I am going to have published I would like to have my name on it. I also wanted to get a new passport and it would be such a pain to get one and then have to have it updated if I decided to change my last name later.

The one thing that constantly prevented me from moving forward was this fear of loss of my identity as a mother. I realized that that fear wasn’t really valid. If I went back to my maiden name, my son wouldn’t all of a sudden forget who I was. Also he is only 5 and he just started to realize that my name wasn’t really “Mommy”. I even stated to think about the single mothers who I knew who had never been married. Some of their children had their fathers last name and there was a never an issue. This fear was so big that I even consulted a lawyer. I asked, “Could you think of any negative consequences that could happened if I did not have the same last name of my children”. She answered, “No”.

Great! So I had made the decision to change my name. I told very few friends or family, I didn’t even tell my parents, so I could keep myself from hearing their opinions. My decision is my decision. I am not looking for validation or criticism from others. My last hurdle was thinking about the cost and time that it would take for me to change my name. I was truly wrong about this as well. In my divorce decree I was given the option to go back to my maiden name if I wanted too. I found out that even though my divorce happened 3 years ago, all I had to do was take my divorce decree to the Secretary of State and they would change it on my license. I could then take it and my new license to the Social Security office and change it there. With those 2 IDs I could update my name anywhere else. In an hour the last chapter on my old life was written.

This was the perfect time in my life to do this. During my divorce the pain was too raw. It would have been too hard to repeatedly tell strangers that I changed my last name because I had gotten divorced. They say that time heals all wounds and in this situation that is true. There has been enough distance, time, and self-work done so that I could get to a place where I am strong enough reclaim my own name.

This decision may not be for everyone and I am in no way judging women who decide to keep their husbands name. This is just what is best for me and maybe through my story women will know that there is another option.

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  1. I am definitely changing mine back. I had a cruise planned and was fearful of the passport drama, but it will be changed! Its been a year for me- no children involved. My good friend kept hers only for the sake of her child. I am so glad I found your blog:)