I didn’t change my name when I got married. I know what some people think, that I am one of “those” women, a chippy upstart brandishing my feminist pride on a pike, determined to make my way in the world without help or influence from my man.
It might be more noble if my reason was as high-minded as that, but honestly, I kept my name for three reasons. Frankly, I was motivated by sheer laziness, pride of ownership and a little pig headedness thrown in for flavor.
See, first there was the situation with the cards. You know, all the myriad cards we carry around to tell the world who we are and how we are going to pay for things?
I couldn’t fathom the frustration of careening through labyrinths of automated phone systems only to play sycophant to a customer service rep supposedly there to bow down to me!
I couldn’t stomach the thought of countless hours wasted in gray government reception rooms, reading aged, wrinkled periodicals while perched on hard-backed plastic chairs waiting for my number to be called. All that just to change my last name from six letters to four? It sounded wearying, annoying, too tedious for words.
Then, there was the fact that I happened to like my last name.
Morgan. Morgan. MORGAN!
To me, it has a broad American appeal to it. It shares ties with one of the most influential banking families in the United States, the J.P. Morgans, of whom I am absolutely no relation, not to mention my credit's so bad they probably wouldn't even give me a loan. It's also my tie to the fabulous and infamous pirate Henry Morgan, who is, in fact, my great-great-grand uncle or something to that effect. Morgans are even that lovely breed of black and brown horse, known to be hard working and determined with a “proud carriage and distinctive eyes.” My name suits me quite well!
And the pig headedness? Well, my then-fiancée balked when I told him I didn’t plan to change my name after we were married, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Were we falling into archaic gender roles and we weren’t even married yet? So I came up with a solution that might suit us both.
“Husband to be,” I said, “I will drop my middle name and change it to Morgan and take your last name as my own. But in turn, I’d like you to drop your middle name and make it Morgan as well.” It made sense to me. He was about to become as much a part of my family as I was of his, so why not make that concession by taking my name too?
You can imagine his reaction. I think he actually snorted. I raised an eyebrow at this and haughtily said “Fine. Then I will keep my name.” And I have.
Occasionally it has cause me some grief, like when registering my children for school people get confused as to how we can all live together but they don’t share the same name. I’ve received checks for my birthday with my husband’s last name on it that banks don’t want to cash and if one of us makes dinner reservations it’s up for debate as to whose name those reservations were in exactly.
Generally, it doesn’t bother me, but then again, generally people keep their opinion about it to themselves. That is, until the day I was at the hospital, in labor with my first child.
Somehow, Nancy, the nastiest nurse in Macon had been assigned to my room. Nancy, who was all rolling eyes and sarcasm on a day when I needed reassurance and warmth. Nancy, who later would invite a complete stranger, some random nursing student who happened by my labor room, to reach up inside me and feel my baby’s head without asking my permission first! Nancy. What a bitch.
With my blood pressure skyrocketing, my midwife decided to do an emergency induction an entire month before my daughter was due. I had pre-eclampsyia and was so swollen that if the hospital hadn’t admitted me, another option would have been to tattoo Goodyear on my belly and float me over a stadium.
I was laying in the bed, practically strapped down with IV’s and monitoring equipment, when Nancy came on duty. My husband was sitting beside me, holding my hand anxiously and watching the swell and ebb of my contractions on the monitor.
Nancy briskly marched in and shooed him from my side. She set about making notes in her hinged silver clipboard before deciding small talk was in order.
“So, do you know what you’re having, Mrs. Morgan?”
“No, we decided to wait and let it be a surprise.” I smiled sweetly, hoping to win her over with charm.
“Oh. What names have you picked out?”
“We decided on William if it’s a boy and Michaela for a girl,” I happily parroted.
She nodded, almost grudgingly. “William is a good strong name, and Michaela Morgan, that has a real nice ring to it.”
Michaela Morgan? Oh! In the maternity ward of a hospital, they print the mother’s last name on everything from the wristbands to the card at the end of the little plastic bassinets! I realized she couldn’t have known my husband’s name was different.
I smiled apologetically. “Well, actually it will be Michaela W – after her daddy. My last name’s Morgan - I just didn’t change it when we got married.”
Nurse Nancy glanced at my husband for a moment as if she had no time for a man who would allow such foolishness under his roof then turned her back to us.
Another contraction gripped my belly and made me grit my teeth as she spoke.
“Well, it’ll make it that much easier when you get divorced, I reckon,” she said, snapping her clipboard shut like an exclamation point.
My husband and I watched her in silent horror as she stalked out of the room. What the hell kind of thing was that to say to a woman in labor?!?
I was speechless. As our eyes met, my husband whistled low. “Damn,” he said. “What a bitch!” and all I could do was nod.
Imagine what she'd have said if she knew we had separate checking accounts too!