There's a big, complicated conversation going on today over at A Practical Wedding, "On Name Changing and Weddings." If you are someone who has no opinion whatsoever on whether or not a woman should take her husband's last name when she marries, then I sincerely doubt that you are a living, breathing person.
This is a contentious subject for all of us, and my generation seems to have inherited a lion's share of doubts, confusion, anger, and worry about the issue. Skimming through the hundreds of replies to the APW post is incredibly engrossing. It's a reminder of how deeply personal the decision has become for us as women, for our partners, and yes, for our hypothetical children.*
I'm changing my name. This may come as a surprise to some who know me, but others--who recall that my last name rhymes with "underwear" and is synonymous with a forest animal--will understand that I've never been all that enamored with my "maiden" name. Especially as a third-grader.
Maybe I'd feel differently if I were an only child, but I have brothers to carry on the "family" name. (I did briefly consider taking my mother's maiden name as a second middle name, because I am one of the last branches of that particular tree, but I've never followed through on the idea.)
My man has told me all along that the decision of whether or not to take his last name was mine--which I already knew, of course--but now that I've decided to go ahead and do it, it seems like he's glad that's where I landed.
We talked vaguely about hyphenating and we joked about just swapping last names--he likes mine better; I prefer his. In the end, changing my name to his is the most convenient option, and my inner child has a real penchant for laziness.
I don't mean to sound casual about such a serious decision, and I would certainly never tell another woman what she should do about this--I can't think of a less negative word for it--dilemma. I just ended up doing what everyone who loves me suggested--I made the choice that was the best fit for me.
*Sometimes I like to ask myself, "What would Ma Ingalls do?" More and more, though, I find myself running into situations that sweet, capable Caroline never for the life of her could have imagined. Then I have to ask, instead, "What would I do?" And then I do it.