My youngest son got married last month and his wife took our family name as her own. All three of our daughters-in-law have chosen to change their names.
That certainly isn’t a given and I would have been totally fine with it had they chosen to keep their maiden names. I get that and I understand it, but my old-fashioned self wanted them to have the same last name as their husbands, for them to take that familial leap of faith.
I’ve never stopped identifying myself as a Crosby even though I’ve been a Kowalski twice as long as I was a Crosby. When I graduated from college and they announced my name as I crossed the stage I was sad for my parents that the Crosby name wasn’t announced or on my diploma. That day I found myself wishing I had changed my middle name from Mary to Crosby when I legally changed my last name, thus retaining on paper, in addition to in heart, that early sense of self.
When I had married several years earlier, at 18, I was totally delighted that by taking the Kowalski name my new husband and I had the exact same initials….JMK. I envisioned many sets of monogramed bath towels in my future. Changing my middle name to Crosby would have negated that.
A few years ago I made family name signs as Christmas presents. In addition to the name they include the words “beyond this place there be dragons.” Those words used to appear on ancient maps for areas beyond what had been explored, a warning about the unknown parts of the ocean that might hold danger.
I chose to include it on my signs to point out to the people who share the name all is safe without our “walls” but outside them, there might be danger. It’s also a reminder that although a family member might find adversity out there in the world, they will always be welcomed back, with love, into our safety.
And for the record, Jim and I have shared those initials now for almost 40 years and I’ve never owned a set of monogramed towels.
And that last young lady who changed her name when she married our son? She went from Smith to Kowalski, which is the equivalent of Smith in Poland so she really didn’t change it at all. 🙂