A question I’ve been asked a lot recently is: “When you get married, will you change your name?” I assume every engaged woman is asked this question at least a few trillion times. My answer is yes, but recently I have been having some feelings that come on the tail end of that yes.
Growing up, I never liked my last name. Aside from my siblings and parents, I had never met another person with my last name. I desperately wanted my mother’s maiden name (like my sister had), because there are dozens and dozens of them in Canonsburg, all relatives. My last name is also a -son name, which the majority of people don’t realize is Scandinavian, but my mother’s maiden name is an -o name and very recognizable as Italian. (I’m a little bit obsessed with ethnicity.) People also consistenly pronounce my name wrong and can’t spell it when I say it.
It wasn’t until High School that I actually began to appreciate my last name. My 10th grade English teacher (who was also my 11th grade Great Books teacher and my 12th grade AP Lit teacher) Mr. Morris, deserves most of the credit. Most students that had him have mixed opinions on him, but I loved him dearly. Mr. Morris was Swedish, so would refer to me as his “Swedish sister,” he also referred to my friend Megan (who shared his last name) as “Sister.” He had a few other “sisters” as well. Something as silly as that really made me appreciate my -son. Just that he saw it for what it was and how it was connected to my family and heritage and not just a random word. As an adult, I’ve also run into a few people here and there (typically -sons) who question me about where my people are from. It’s always a fun conversation to have. Yes, I am Swedish and Icelandic. Boom. I began to appreciate that there are no other Katrina -sons as far as the internet can find. I also began to appreciate that is not an absurdly long name with tons of constanants and silent letters, it is very basic, yet unique. After my mom remarried and my sister married, my two brothers and I are the only -sons I know. But at least now there is Bradley to carry that on into the next generation.
Keith’s last name is Mc-. It’s simple, two syllables, easy to spell, impossible to pronounce incorrectly. But it’s not mine. Yet.
Growing up in homes first with two different last names, (my mother’s maiden name/my dad’s name) then with three different last names (mother’s maiden/dad’s/stepdad’s), I long for a time when everyone in my house has the same last name. I want to have the same last name as my children. I am not established in any career with my maiden name, I will actually marry before I graduate from college.
Yet there is still the tiniest bit of hestiation. I don’t want to hyphenate. That would make my full name 29 letters and that is way too long. I don’t want to replace my middle name with my maiden name, I am quite fond of my middle name (Justine).
I like the idea of sharing a name with Keith. We share our entire lives, so a name just rounds it out. I like that I won’t have to spell it or repeat it as much as I do my own. I like that my little family unit will be the Mc-’s. I also like the little c in Mc.
I still have a while yet until I change my name, and I will change it. I’d just like to make sure I hold onto it and appreciate it for a little bit longer.
How about you? Have you kept your name? Changed it? Hyphenated it? Any hesitations? Regrets?