Monday, July 25, 2011

The Name Game

A few months before our first child was due to be born, my husband and I started playing what we called the Name Game. It was mostly about first and middle names (he won the first name after his deceased mother, I won the middle name) but we also had to decide on the last name. I don't even know how many families have the last name as an issue. I assume we are in an extreme minority. I kept my last name and he kept his when we married. I like my last name, he's indifferent to his. So when it came to our kids, while we toyed with the idea of hyphenation, ultimately our kids ended up with my last name.

This one unusual trait of our family speaks to my relationship with my husband more than anything else. No one but us knows what we do in our bedroom. I don't order him around in public (well, no more than any other wife). When he says "yes ma'am" in front of other people, it's with an ironic tone that makes it seem like he doesn't really mean it (and sometimes he doesn't). But the kids have MY NAME. It's indicative to my husband's nature in perhaps a subtle way.

I'm thinking of all of this because in a few weeks, we head out for vacation and will attend my husband's extended family reunion. All of his relatives are going to know now based on information sent around, name tags, etc. that his kids aren't carrying his name. In fact, my son is the only son of a man with my husband's paternal family name. He is the only child in the extended family that is expected to carry that name into the next generation. Except of course, that's not his name. I asked my husband if he wanted to hide this. I don't want him to be uncomfortable. He says it doesn't bother him, that he doesn't care what his cousins think of all this.

In many ways, my husband is comfortable in his own skin. He isn't an alpha male and doesn't feel compelled to pretend otherwise.

Isn't it what this is all about - accepting and liking who you are?


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