Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's in a name?


Will and I have been working hard to come up with an official name for Magpie. We have a short list of first names, mostly based on family names across the generations. We have two runners up, either of which would make a fine first name, we think. I expect we will decide soon(ish) on it. And I think we are in close agreement.

The bigger problem is with her LAST name(s).

Will and I do not share a last name. I was in my mid-thirties when we married and already extensively published under my maiden name, and beyond that, my name felt, well, like mine, and I didn't want to give it up or feel any need to do so. And so I kept it. And now I have twice as many publications and my psychology license all in my original name.

Will has his own name, of course. Which he is rather attached to. And he has also published and has his medical license under his name.

And now awesomely, unbelievably, here comes Magpie.  

And we have to figure out what her last name will be.

Will has apparently always assumed that our child's last name would be his last name. And I assumed we would do something more egalitarian.

The three "more egalitarian" options are:

(1) Magpie Mo'slastname Will'slastname (with Mo as one of, or the only, middle names)

(2) Magpie Mo'slastname Will'slastname (both as last names, but no hyphen)

(3) Magpie Mo'slastname-Will'slastname (hyphenated)

or (less egalitarian)

(4) Magpie gets Will's last name and my last name is left off entirely.

We briefly considered all three of us hyphenating and having the same last name, but I don't think Will is willing to do this, so it's a no go. It would be a major hassle anyway, honestly.

Some of the practical considerations are:

(1) What name combo will make traveling (especially internationally) easier? Will having my last name as a middle name or as one of the last names help, especially if Magpie and I ever travel alone?

(2) What name combo will make education easier? Will having my last name as a middle or last make it clearer to teachers who I am, what role I play for Magpie, etc.?

Emotional considerations include:

(1) Is a hyphenated name or compound last name weird or burdensome for a kid to have to carry around? (Will thinks so.) Will my kid be the only NYC kid with a hyphenated or compound name? Our last names, by the way, are two syllables each, and 13 characters in total (including a hyphen if we used one, so not so long)

(2) Would a hyphenated or compound name, on the other hand, help convey to our daughter her heritage that stems from both of us and our extended families?

We are somewhat at an impasse on this, with Will wanting to go the conventional route, and me not so sure.

So we are curious, what do you guys think? Those who are parents and have a different last name from your spouse/partner, how did you make your decision on your child's last name? And what about your kid's friends? How many of them have a dual last name (either hyphenated or not?)

Really trying to be thoughtful here and welcome  your thought process on this (whether you're a mom yet or not!)


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  1. based on your reasoning for not taking will's last name, it seems like you didn't take it because you'd already been published, you were used to it, etc...not so much that you hated the idea of changing your last name. so why not give baby girl her dad's last name? and consider hyphenating yours at this point? i feel like this is the first of so many decisions that you'll make in baby girl's best interest. motherhood is wonderful and i'm THRILLED you're a mom. so happy for you two (three!)

  2. We're a two mom family so we had this discussion many times prior to DS being born. At first we were going to hyphenate, but I thought that would be too cumbersome as we also have 2-syllable last names. We eventually decided on my last name as DS' middle name and DW's last name as his last name. I felt like since I gave birth to him, there was no denying our connection. I wanted there to be a strong connection between him and DW in strangers' eyes. You don't have that issue, of course, but it has worked just fine. Whatever you decide will be great!

  3. What about just your last name? That's what we did for my son! My husband isn't particularly attached to his last name, and we already had two nephews with that last name. So we were able to guarantee that my name continued, even if my brother doesn't have kids (though I'm sure he will). And so we will do the same for baby #2.

  4. My son and his dad share the same last name, and mine is different. I've never had a problem in terms of teachers/others knowing who I was in relation to him. We want him to have a strong sense of heritage on both sides, and I think (considering that he's five) he does, and it doesn't have to do with his last name. In fact, his middle name was also his paternal grandfather's name, and he feels much more connected to him via middle name than to anyone based on surname (I hope that made sense!). I think those things have more to do with how you approach family heritage with her than with which name she has.

    So excited for you!

  5. I hyphenated my last name, but practice (I'm a vet) under my maiden name. Baby Squishy has my maiden name as one of his middle names and has daddy's last name. I like this as it was a minimal change to my name and we are a united family name-wise.

    Good luck to you!!

  6. We did "Hen Mom'sLastName Dad'sLastName" and I've been happy with the choice. People who know me & not my husband tend to assume Hen's name is "Hen Mom'sLastName", and I don't correct them. But neither do I correct people who call me Mrs. Dad'sLastName socially or in relation to Hen.

    We had the additional issue of wanting to give him the same last name as his sisters, and I felt strongly about the importance of that verbal bit of connection for the sake of family harmony.

    The way I figure it is that giving Hen my last name as his middle name (or as his first last name if I want to really be pedantic) is a way of keeping ourselves as tidily sorted out the way my librarian's organization-obsessed mind wants us to be. And I do dislike the cumbersomeness of hyphens in names, (much as I adore using them in writing sentences!)

    But in practical, real-life stuff, I don't mind when someone gets his (or my)name "wrong". If that would bother you, then your decision won't be as easy, because it does occasionally cause confusion when baby has a different last name than mom and it's much easier to just let it slide socially. (Though I've never had any problem at all flying, getting insurance, or anything else, and I don't know if that's because my name is his middle name, or if officials are busy, have seen it all, & simply aren't likely to get worked up about such things.)

    Good luck hashing through it all...

  7. I've been reading your blog a long time but don't usually comment... This is basically our exact situation. I've kept my maiden name and my son has my husband's last name - mainly because it just sounded better together with his first name. Many of my friends have kept their maiden names, too, none of them went the hyphenated route, but many of them have the other parent's name as middle name (I like that but we didn't do it again for the simple reason that it just didn't sound very good with our particular names).
    I have traveled alone to Europe with my son when he was 9 months old and it was no problem at all. No one even mentioned the issue that based on our last names it was not apparent that I am the mother. I did bring a notarized letter from my husband that consented to our travel and a copy of my son's birth certificate, but no one asked for it. Hope that helps and good luck! You've almost made it!!!

  8. We gave our daughters two first names (what would typically be their first and middle names), used my last name as the official middle name, and then my husband's last name as the official last name. My last name works well as a middle name. This way, school records have my last name and DH's last name. The two first names are both named after relatives who have passed away, and these names are both part of their Hebrew names that are used at synagogue.

    We've liked the "4 name approach" and it's worked well with no problem. My cousins chose to do the same thing. (Mom's last name as middle name).

    We have lots of friends where Mom and Dad have different last names and 99% of the time, the kids have the Dad's last name. Tradition dies hard. I have only one friend who went the full egalitarian route and they gave their daughter the Dad's last name and their son the Mom's last name. (personally, I don't like siblings having different last names, but it worked for them).

    How wonderful that you get to worry about these things! Good luck!

  9. As a mother to a kindergartner, I can tell you it matters at school. It becomes confusing as parents are called upon to assist at school and it is hard to identify by name which child belongs to which parent. We have divorced parents, but the child has dad's last name.

    I live in LA and there are virtually no hyphenated last names. I, too, was established in my career by the time I got married at 38, and decided the best way to reconcile it was to drop my given middle name and legally take my maiden name as my middle name and my husband's last name as my own.

    Also, you could still take Will's last name legally but keep your last name in the work place.

    Would you feel marginalized if Magpie had Will's last name and you were the only member of your family with a different last name?

    It is always interesting to see. These kinds of decisions come to the fore when a new life is being considered.

  10. I just recently changed my own name as my husband and I were discussing this. I eventually settled with having four names: first middle1 middle/maiden last.

    It's worked so far for me in that I am still professionally known by my maiden name, but as a family unit, use my husbands last name.

  11. I never changed my maiden name after marriage either. When my daughter was born, her last name was my husbands and her middle name is even my husband's fathers name as it was important to pass that on as it doesnt seem likely we will be blessed with another child, let alone a son. No one confuses our relationship and I honestly didn't want to burden her with my issues if that makes sense. I didn't take my husbands name for many reasons but that doesn't mean she shouldn't. In the end, do I wish we all had the same last name? Yes, especially considering how unattractive (truly it is) his last name is, but if the result is all three of us having different last names, then I would prefer at least her and her father sharing this bond.

  12. We've decided that when the time comes baby will have my last name as the one and only middle name and baby's last name will be Adam's last name. I have a dear friend that did this when married and have since divorced and it's worked well when she's travelling out of the country with the kids. There has never been an issue.

    I'm sure you guys will make the best decision for you.

  13. Well, I'm an ardent feminist, so I thought I would want the kids to have my name. And yet, my last name is very bulky (three syllables!), The Bearded Economists is not, and hyphenation seemed to close to child abuse. I also felt more that my feminism was satisfied by ME having MY name, and my kids having theirs - not changing for marriage, but not needing to honor the paternal line from whence I descend.

    But I also worried that I would feel very lonely, being "C", and having everyone else be in "Family Economist" (as it were). So: colloquially I try to have everyone refer to our family by a cute nickname that is a mishmash of our two last names (like, if your name was Roberts, and his was Thomson, you could be the RobThoms! Or the Bertsons!). You can put your punniest friends to work on this solution, and it will make them SO HAPPY. And basically you end up like paparazzi-ridden celebs (Brangelina-esque).

    I don't know. I sometimes wish I had pushed for a split - any girls with his name and any boys with mine, or something like that. I think I would have if my last name wasn't so LONG, and ETHNIC, and now I feel like those are terrible reasons to reject a name.

  14. I grew up with a hyphenated last name (mother'slastname-father'slastname) and hated it. It confused everyone, and I gladly took my first husband's last name when we married because it was ONE NAME. We had three children before divorcing, and I kept the same last name as my kids after the split, even though I remarried. I don't know what to tell you, other than to do what feels right to you. An important point of information, however, is that there is no place to put a hyphen on Scantron and other testing forms, which is a pain in the butt for a kid to deal with.

  15. A few things - 1.) I cannot believe your baby is due in a month! I've been following your story for several years and it gives me great hope (even though I quit the pregnancy game after m/c #5) 2.)My husband's son was born with his mother's last name, changed to his father's last name when his parents married (he was 2) then she changed it back to her maiden name when they divorced; now that she's remarried we are changing it back to his father's last name (since he now has the same name as NO ONE in his family) - he (now 16) wishes he had always had his father's last name because it's easier [not pronunciation-wise, just life-wise]
    3) a friend of mine changed her daughters' names to a hyphenated version of hers/her ex's and the kids (now grown) wish they hadn't, they find the hyphenated version annoying (granted they went through the first 5 and 7 years of their lives non-hyphenated)
    Just a few life experiences for insight...sorry for the novel.
    Again, so very excited for this next chapter in your life.

  16. I am a product of parents in your exact situation. So I got both last names. It was confusing and socially awkward in high school and made things even more tricky when I got married. So wish my parents hadn't done that to me, but that's just MY personal take on it. If you didn't take Will's last name because of being published etc. which totally makes sense to me, why not just give baby his last name? Whatever you do I hope you guys come to a conclusion that you can both be happy about.

    As a long time reader but non-commenter I felt I had to step up on this one and comment because of my experience. I am so happy for you. It will be here before you know it!

  17. OK. My parents gave me my mother's maiden name as my middle name, my last name is my father's. It felt/feels nice having that connection to my mom's family.

    I didn't change my name (or hyphenate) when I got married. Like you, I was published with my maiden name, multiple degrees in my maiden name, etc. Plus, exactly as you said- it's mine! I wanted to keep it.

    Both of my kids have just their father's last name. I thought about giving my maiden name as their middle name, but it's VERY common (like Smith, but not), so it didn't feel special enough. Also, both our last names are 8 letters long and a 16 letter hyphenated name seemed ridiculous- that sh*t's never going to fit on a form for the PSATs!

    So far I haven't run into any problems with doctor's offices, preschool, Passport office, etc. The only hurdle was a typo by my company's benefits office that listed my daughter with my last name when I was first hired.

    I'm pretty sure that kids' passports list the parents (if I was at home, I'd look and tell you for certain)- so your name would be right on there. From what I understand, some countries require a notarized letter from the other parent to let kids enter with only 1 parent, but that varies by country.

    When we travel (we've only traveled domestically) by air, we bring our daughter's birth certificate (we requested 2 copies so we would have one to travel with). This was for several reasons. 1- was to ensure it was entirely clear I was her mom. 2- to prove her age because some airlines have hassled parents with kids traveling as a "lap child" to prove they were under 2.

    Emotionally, I don't think that it's a big issue. My daughter is so like me and my family, that sometimes I forget she doesn't have my last name! Not sharing a name hasn't bothered me at all- even though I worried it would.

    My 2 cents- if you really want your last name in there, make it her middle name.

  18. Well, I didn't have to contemplate this issue as a single mama.

    But I will say I have a TON of students with hyphenated or variously combo last names. Also know families in which everyone hyphenated (mom and dad, not just kids). And we have a good friend who changed her own last name (and her daughter's) to something she invented, which was awesome.

    Practically speaking, if you don't hyphenate, her name will probably be shortened to LAST LAST name (Will's?) for school purposes...

  19. I had a similar situation--married at 27, I was already ME. Many years later with DD, I chose an ethnic first name for her which DH liked, so she got his last name which is ethnic enough to go with the first name. Then DH decided DD should get my ethnic, very hard to pronounce last name as her middle name.

    I dOnt think you need to chane YOUR name at this late date to meet some societal norm. Really. I grew up with a very difficult to pronounce name (both first and last) and it had really never occurred to me to change it. It is who I am. I figure if someone has trouble with it it's their problem.

    Maybe b/c we live in Calif, but so far --DD is under 2-- it had not been a problem that my last name is diff. No one (drs office etc) bats an eye. Occasionally someone will assume there is a hyphen in her name but no biggie.

  20. I was attached to my maiden name, but decided that I wanted some family unity in our last name- plus I do enjoy variety- and I took Mr S's last name, and changed my middle name to my maiden name. My Quebecois friend kept her maiden name, as is common there, and her son has her name as his middle and husband's as his last. This is common in Hispanic cultures as well.

    I have a few friends who hypenated and ended up hating it. It was cumbersome, and many documents do not have the space for a dual name, even though women have been doing this for decades.

  21. I know many children with hyphenated names and many that have just taken one parents name with no ill effects (in travel, in school, in knowing his/her heritage). I know only a few adults with hyphenated names but in every instance, the woman didn't like the hyphen, bc they then really had no choice when getting married. They couldn't hyphen again, they couldn't take the hyphenated name as a middle name, it was generally already cumbersome on it's own. Anyway, just providing food for though...

  22. What a great post and I'm loving all the comments!

    I have a hyphenated name and it's a pain in the butt!!!! So much so I unofficially shorten it whenever I can :)

    My vote is give Magpie your surname as a middle name and Will's surname for her official last name. Your surname would work well as a middle name.

    I have lots of friends who didn't take the husband's name (feminism nothing to do with being published and whatnot :)) but all the kids have the husband's name. One friend has a hyphenated surname R-H and the kids have the H as their surname from their dad. :)

  23. I like the idea of using your last name as baby's middle name and dad's last name as baby's last name. We all have the DH's last name, but my first born son as my maiden name as his first name. When I married DH I just added my maiden name in between my middle name and his last name. So, I guess I have 2 middle names. I refused to drop my last name or my middle name.

  24. My daughters have my last name. My husband's last name is their middle name. Enough kids have different last names than one of their parents that travel and school issues really aren't a problem. And this was my husband's choice so he is perfectly happy. His parents, though, not so much.

  25. My parents had a similar debate. I ended up with my mother's last name as my middle name. It worked well and I kept it as my middle name when I got married. As an educator, I has a handful of students whose mothers had different last names because of the mothers choosing to keep their maiden names. It was not at all confusing.

  26. I am in agreement with the folks that say use your name as the middle name. There was a really cute story on NPR recently about what happens when a girl with a hyphenated last name, meets/dates/decides to marry a boy with a hyphenated name. I'm sure its still available for a listen. First issue was what they would use for a last name, then of course, what would they use for their children! Good Luck!

  27. I kept my own name when I married at 37 for similar reasons to yours: I'd had two professional careers with that name, and I'd lived my whole life with it and didn't want to change it.

    That said, there was never any question for me that our children would have their father's name and his name only. I just think it becomes too cumbersome when you start hyphenating two last names together (even though ours happen to be short and sound OK together). I figured I could always easily explain our name choice to my sons by saying "I have my dad's name, and you have your dad's name."

    I have some friends who've faced similar decisions, and a couple did the mom's-maiden-name-as-middle-name thing, and that seems to have worked out fine for them. I also have one friend who gave her children four names: first, middle, her-last-name, dad's-last-name. But in point of fact, nearly everyone just refers to them as first, dad's-last-name.

  28. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/19/156923573/when-hyphen-boy-meets-hyphen-girl-names-pile-up

    Here is the link....

  29. Sorry if I'm repeating what others have said but haven't read the other responses. Do the names sound good together? I never bothered changing any of my ID cards or social, even though I officially changed my name on the marriage license. I understand your dilemma. I've been married for 8 years and only started using my married name (informally and officially) after my son was born. It eliminated the question marks about our marital status, which was important to me, even though I felt like a traitor for "discarding" my family name.
    To be honest, I've always found hyphenated names to be a bit "to the manor born," and you and Will don't strike me as the pretentious type.
    I think it's perfectly reasonable to have your last name as baby's middle name and you could do the same for yourself. Just because your name is one thing on paper, doesn't mean you have to start calling yourself that!

  30. I adopted my son as a single person, but my then fiance, now husband was involved in most of the process. When we named my son he was given a first, middle and my last name. When my husband adopted him last year we changed his name to first, middle, my last name and my husband's last name - no hyphenation. We intended for him to have two middle names and use my husband's last name as his, (which is also mine, by the way) but when we registered in public preschool he still had my last name and they have hyphenated our last names after my husband's adoption. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd just have his first name, my maiden name as his middle name and my husband's name as his last name. I don't know if there's any advantage to any particular way, but now the school gets confused if I don't use his hyphenated name (that THEY gave him.) Long answer, but congratulations whatever you decide to do!

  31. WOW! That's a lot of responses....When I got married my husband told me it was up to me if I wanted to change my name. I took my husband's last name and changed my middle name to my maiden name. So in essence I kept my name, just without hyphenating it. My hubs was adamant about me "picking a team," and did not like the idea of hyphenating.

    Two of my cousins kept their maiden names and had their children take their father's names. Professionally they are Ms Maiden name, but socially they have accepted to be Mrs. Husband's last name.

    I think having 2 last names would be a challenge, but you raise a good point about traveling. I don't know how that works. I only had to produce a birth certificate when I traveled with my daughter. I don't know if that would change once she's old enough for some sort of ID.

    Good luck!

  32. Hmmm. I have a male cousin (who was doing nothing illicit) who had considerable difficulty departing from a European country (his and his family's homeland) with his daughter, who bears her mother's name (her mother is married to my cousin, but did not take his name, and their daughter bears her mother's last name, not her father's). By "considerable difficulty" I think I mean, "It was rather a nuisance and they got detained for 30 minutes and had to answer a bunch of questions," not, "They were detained in solitary confinement for 3 days and brutally beaten," but as I'm sure you know, when you're travelling, you just want to be allowed to move along. I suspect this is most an issue for fathers travelling with daughters who bear other last names, but that's just a gut sense.

    I took my husband's name legally, though I continue to use my maiden name professionally, and must admit I was relieved to divest myself of my dad's last name (that of a man I didn't choose and honestly wouldn't choose) for my husband's (whom I did). So there's a different take on the whole "taking his name" issue, but I will say it has been a nuisance having my husband's name on my social security card but working using my own name (2/3 of my employers have had zero problem with this and 1/3 was completely stumped). If I had it to do over I'd keep my maiden name legally but use my husband's socially (as I do use it now) for that reason. Indeed, as I understand the naming conventions of the English language, regardless of whether I legally changed my name or not I am correctly Ms. Alexicographer Mylegallastname [whatever it may be] and Mrs. Hubby'sfirstname Hubby'slegallastname (but never "Mrs. Alexicographer DH'sname,") because Mrs. means "wife of." So there's that. So I never identify myself as Mrs. if I want to use my first name, but always as Ms.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly given the above, DS has DH's last name (also legally mine), and my name appears nowhere in his (except that his first name comes from my side of the family). (However, DH and I do use my last name for restaurant reservations & such, because it's easier to spell and pronounce than is his ... :))

  33. Oh, one additional observation -- at least last time I got my driver's license renewed, policy in my state was (a) we had to use our full name and (b) we could not list more than 3 names. That (a) and (b) contradicted each other -- I was still using my maiden name, in addition to my first, middle, and new legal (DH's) lastname, on my license up until that point -- was of course beyond the DMV to solve. I ended up using my first, maiden, and DH's (my) legal last name on my license, but ... the idea that government forms will allow more than 3 names (as some have posted above) may not always be accurate.

  34. I also didn't take my husband's name, though he was actually open to taking mine or even having us smoosh ours together to form a new name. I didn't want him to do either, just seemed weird and silly. I have my name, which I wont give up, and he has his. Our daughters are due in a few months and they'll have his name. It makes me a bit sad to not to be represented, but in terms of practical stuff (teachers, travel), I think it is extremely unlikely to cause problems.

    As far as hyphens, it just seems like a band-aid. What happens if my daughters want to hyphenate their hyphenated names with THEIR partners? Three last names? Where does it end?

    As far as my last name as a middle name, my last name is a very known Jewish one that would sound absurd as a middle name.... plus the surname-as-middle-name is just not something folks do in culture.

    My girls are my girls, and my family is my family, with or without one name.

  35. Our friends have "first name, middle name, her last name, his last name" Does it make it a little long sure but it is what made the most sense for all of their kids to have both last names. I'm not a big fan of the hyphen...our daughter has husband's last name but her first name is my maiden name. I also took husband's last name but kept my middle and maiden name...so I have "first name, middle name, maiden name, husband's name" Sure it is lengthy but it is who I am...my middle name was a family name so it wasn't an option to drop it and dropping my maiden name wasn't really an option.

  36. I wasn't planning to comment until I read all the other comments. I had no idea there was such hatred for hyphenated names! We hyphenated our daughter's name. I was resistant at first, but now I love it. We couldn't imagine giving her only one of our names. But I think this is more common in same sex couples. I could see my wife and I both adopting the hyphenated name in the future too.

    Talking about this issue with straight friends I'm blown away by how otherwise progressive men are so opposed to or threatened by changing their name or giving a child a last name other than their own. Or if the man isn't opposed, then family is. It's a fascinating topic! We only know of one straight couple that gave their daughter dad's last name as a middle name and mom's as a last.

    I think you should give her your last name!

  37. As a scientist (who published under my maiden name) and a feminist (I change my name for NO man), I kept my last name.
    That's important to ME and my now-husband respected that (he wouldn't be husband if he didn't).

    With our son, it was quite important to hubby to have his last name there. Hubby is really big into genealogy research, family ties, and traditions that way (family history stuff).
    My knee-jerk feminism reared its head a bit, but I just realized that it WASN'T THAT IMPORTANT to me that my son share my name. Really. He's my son, he always will be. Just like I don't think families require biological connections, my family doesn't require us to all share the same name.

    I worried most about not being known as the mom, say at school,(especially since his hair/eye is opposite of mine, like his dad's.)
    But, I live in a liberal college town in a liberal state and there are so many diversities in family make-ups here. When my son is with me, there's no mistaking that I'm his mom, and that's what matters to me the most.

  38. Interesting post. I kept my name but we always agreed our kids would have my husband's last name. He's Jewish by heritage and it is important to him to pass that on. I don't mind being referred to as Mrs. HisLastName and it happens occasionally. I think when (hypo) kiddo starts school I will introduce myself as Mrs. HisLastName to make it easier for everyone.

    Another option to think about and something I didn't consider - most of my coworkers changed their names legally when they got married but "kept" their maiden names professionally.

  39. As a teacher, I have lots of kids with two names or hyphenated names. I don't feel confused... Except when the child leaves off part of it because it's "easier." It's wonderful to include both of you in her name, but be sure to explain why so she knows and is proud of her name. Some of my double-named kiddos love it (they feel special) and some hate it (takes too long to write. I have 7th grade, so they can, they're just being lazy). So use both!

  40. I kept my maiden name when I married; like you, I also had publications and degrees under my maiden name, and it is part of my identity. However, my last name is descriptive, so hyphenating was not an option (sounded dorky no matter which order we chose) and making it a middle name was weird. My daughters have my husband's last name. His family has no other grandchildren, and his name is far more unique than mine; I have two nephews with my last name. I know people who have used all of the approaches mentioned by other commenters, and they all work, but the hyphenated option is probably the toughest. Many software packages don't know how to handle hyphenated names, which means that how the name gets entered depends on who entered it, so it can be a considerable confusion factor. That said, if it's important to you, people will have to work with it.
    As for the travel, different last names should make no difference, because you should always travel with a passport and/or a copy of the birth certificate, which lists both parents. Traveling to foreign countries can be an issue if only one parent is going, regardless of the last names. My husband, 1-yr-old daughter, and I once vacationed in a foreign country and had to meet there due to a last-minute work trip for me. He was stopped in customs and grilled because he was traveling with our daughter without me, and when he told them I was waiting in baggage claim, they escorted him out to me. They told us to always have a permission note from the absent parent if traveling solo with (a) child(ren).
    Honestly, you can make just about anything work; just try to be understanding with people who get a little confused, and they'll usually work with you. :)

  41. I'm Spanish. A Spaniard traditionally has two surnames. It goes like this: Givenname Father'sfirstsurname Mother'sfirstsurname. So if your father is called Enrique Pons Rubio and your mother is called Laura Torrents Teixidor, for example, you will probably be Whatever Pons Torrents. (A few years ago a law was passed allowing an inversion of that order, that is, Mother'sfirst surname Father'sfirstsurname --you may be Whatever Torrents Pons). Women do not change their surname after marriage.

    I think the system works. My two (Euro) cents. :-)

  42. Hi Mo,
    I didn't take my husband's last name either; where I live you have to officially request to change your name when you marry, and I had similar reasons to you to keep my last name.
    We had a bit of a challenge with the first name, because my husband and I are from different linguistic backgrounds...even names that sound similar in the 2 languages are spelled differently.
    I wanted to give my son my husband's last name...nostly tradition; I hadn't thought much of not giving his name, and then I got to carry my son, and he looks a lot like me, so this was giving that special link to my husband.
    Because he got my husband's last name, he got the english ("my" language) spelling of his first name.
    I have only had occasional pangs of semi-sadness that he will not pass on my last name (mostly sad for my dad, but hey, he looks a lot like my dad)
    FOr travel it shouldn't be an issue. You will need passport etc anyway, and to be safe etter of consent if you are traveling without Will (I have travelled often with my son; sometimes no questions asked, other times have been told I should have a notarized letter of consent)
    Wonderful that this is where you are at! best wishes for the rest

  43. my hub and I have different names too. I didn't want to change and we didn't want to hyphenate. we considered creating a new name for all of us when our daughter was born, but honestly name changing was still a PITA and not a great option professionally.

    in truth, so many kids have different names from at least one of their parents these days. with divorce, remarriage and unconventional family building, it's becoming more the norm. you'll be her mom whether or not you share her name.

    that said, why not ask will if she can have your name instead of his? why does it have to be his? just tradition? I get it. we struggled too.

    we decided if it was a girl, she would take my name, and if it was a boy he would take my hub's name. when our second child came along, we just knew the kids needed the same last name, regardless.

  44. I'm glad to hear there are one or two other families out there with Mama's last name!

    It doesn't sound like Will will go for this, but I know one couple whose names are Anderson and Koo, and their kids are Anderkoo.

  45. We gave G his Dad's last name. I never changed mine for similar reasons....it's not been an issue for me. And I have considered hyphenating my name in the future. My husband actually wanted to change his last name to mine and give G mine but that seemed so.....weird to me. Haven't given it much thought since....except one fleeting thought when we were doing his school application of, "what if they think I'm not his real Mom!?" but that quickly passed because, I am. And I think everyone in this day and age are used to different last names. :). It all depends on what you feel comfortable with in the end.

  46. I would probably hyphenate her last name. There are many cultures that it is a standard thing in. For instance, the Americanization of my husband's last name is Cruz-Saez (in Spanish it would be Cruz de la Saez). Your child would be far from the only one with a hyphenated last name.

  47. My partner and I had exactly the same problem when our daughter was born. We decided a hyphenated name would be too cumbersome (though as a teacher I can attest that it's quite common), so we went with a double name and no hyphen so our daughter could choose if she wanted to cart them both around or just use one most of the time. The poor girl has a really long name and her last name is really three names (my husband's last name has two names) but it was very inportant to me that she had parts of both of us in her name. And them when she wants to write it herself, she can drop one of them to make it easier. That is her choice.

  48. My partner and I had exactly the same problem when our daughter was born. We decided a hyphenated name would be too cumbersome (though as a teacher I can attest that it's quite common), so we went with a double name and no hyphen so our daughter could choose if she wanted to cart them both around or just use one most of the time. The poor girl has a really long name and her last name is really three names (my husband's last name has two names) but it was very inportant to me that she had parts of both of us in her name. And them when she wants to write it herself, she can drop one of them to make it easier. That is her choice.

  49. Not a mom, but I can speak from personal experience! My maiden name was two separate words (Italian insanity, I tell you.). All of my degrees are under my maiden name, but I still ended up changing it. When I got married, I had my first two papers in peer review and I went ahead and changed my name on them mid-stream. I could not WAIT to get rid of the two word last name and didn't want to be stuck with it for all professional eternity. Picking up a prescription, checking in at a doctor's office - giant pain in the butt. No one knows how to alphabetize the darned thing, and computer systems are rarely set up for it. And don't even get me started on having to have my diplomas reprinted because they stuck part of my last name onto my middle name. That was a trip.

    There's a lot of talk about feminism here, but to me, feminism is about having choices. If you give her a hyphenated name, you are limiting her choices. Like others have said, what is she going to do if/when she gets married or has a child?

    I'd bet that half of my patients have different last names than their moms. It's really no big deal. I just learn their names like a normal person. Jane Doe goes with Sarah Smith.

    Just for the record, my middle name is not my mom's maiden name, but it does link me to her family and I love that. I think if I did have her maiden name as a middle I would have loved that too. I do think it's important to represent both families in a name if you can.

  50. I don't have time to read the comments right now, but my knee-jerk reaction is to give her a hyphenated last name. It's not THAT uncommon, especially in the circles you likely frequent. It will also make it quite clear that you're her mother, which wouldn't be as evident with the other choices. I wouldn't advise giving her BOTH your last names as her last name, unhyphenated. That way leads confusion with recordkeeping, as it will suggest to many that the last of the two names is her "real" last name. (For the record, I changed my last name to my husband's when we married, in a utopian throwback mental muddle about the beauty of our future family sharing the same name. For professional purposes, I often use my--eek--"maiden" name, and I sometimes wish I hadn't changed it and gone the hyphenated route with our children.)

  51. I've never commeted before - but for the same reasons I kept my last name when I married. I have 2 girls and my cousin has 3 girls so the last name dies with us... so we did the first name middle name my last name (as a 2nd middle) and his last name non-hyphenated. Husband is the last male of his line too so we don't really want to lose either name. It works fine. On forms my kids put 2 middle initials, for their activities I just sign my first name - their last name and was never uncomforable doing so. For travel it makes no difference. Both hubby and I have traveled alone with kids and have never had an issue. To places where it might be an issue either parent needs a notarized permission letter because of custody disputes - the last name on the passport/ birth certificate doesn't matter. There are so many variations in naming now that no matter what you do it won't raise an eyebrow - except in the hospital records when my second was born the nurse wrote in big letters -CHILD AT RISK - PARENTS NOT MARRIED - although we had been married for 10 years and they wouldn't let me make the correction because it was part of the "record". I'm still angry....


  52. A friend of mine hyphenated Herlastname-Hislastname with their first child, and it was waaaay too much trouble, so now all 3 of her children go by Hislastname only. But I'm sure you can make it work any way you choose!

  53. I also kept my last name when I married because of my publications (basic science research). Our daughter has my husband's last name. I think I will eventually change my last name legally, although I will continue to publish under my maiden name. As far as I know, there is no reason why I can't publish under a "pseudonym."

  54. I have a friend who had a baby a couple of weeks ago. She had kept her maiden name. Anyway, their baby got her maiden name as a middle name and her husbands last name. I think it's reasonable that if your names are not all that long to hyphenate.
    Oh- and for some reason I thought Magpie was some sort of nickname for Margaret (Maggie). Go figure. Good luck on the name decision!

  55. All of the considerations in this post are the reasons I took my husband's last name. I was 35 when we met so this was no small consideration for me. I really miss my old name but after 3 years I am now just getting used to it. That said, we will be using my maiden name as the middle name of our second child (*hoping like heck that this pregnancy ends in a live baby*). We didn't do this with our first child because we had his first name picked out and his middle name honors my late father in law which felt more important at the time. But that said, I do very much want my maiden name to form a part of this second child's name.

    These are hard decisions! I know you'll make the decision that suits you, Will and Magpie best :)

  56. i'm old fashioned and I say go with the daddy's last name and if you want why not have two middle names the one you like and then your surname?...I guess also it depends how long the names are and do they sound good together....we have a family at our school that joined them together...meyer and vale to become meyervale....but i guess because they are both relatively short it works....but i still like tradition...how exciting I love naming babies...down to pets now! No more babies

  57. Wow. that is a LOT of metaphorical ink your readers have spilled on this issue. I don't blame them. I'm joining in because it's also something me and Mr. A wrestle with. We've had several major discussions about this (before this pregnancy - we haven't dared pick it up at this point). My name is French Canadian and very rare. His name is also French Canadian (although he's anglo) and not rare at all. So, I feel like our children should have my name, or else my name dies with me. Turns out, Mr. A is also very fond of his name. The way it was left, and this is not entirely satisfactory to me, was to split it down gender lines. If it's a girl, she gets mama's last name, and if it's a boy, he gets dad's last name. We'll have to look at it again. I'll look forward to read about the conclusion you and Will reach on this issue.

  58. I am the only one of my friends who took her husband's last name. All of their children have the husband's last name and it hasn't produced any complications for any of them, travel or school-wise.

    Not saying that is the way to go, at ALL, just that it hasn't been an issue. I think it is so common for women to keep their last name's now,kids have any one of a number of combination last names and people are just used to it.

  59. Hi, Mo. I'm an educator in an elementary school with a large Hispanic population...and lots of kids with two last names. Also, I am married to a Hispanic man who has two last names. Because of my connections to education and the Hispanic community, I can safely say that diversity is increasing in the younger age groups, and more and more students will tote 2 last names...HOWEVER, let me caution you to the pitfall of sharing a last name as you have it. In the Hispanic culture, the mothers last name comes last. For all things alphabetical and formal, the father's name is listed first in the last name blank. If you go the other way (as many hyphenated/shared families do in our culture) just know that the times are changing and as the Hispanic population grows, more and more people - especially in education - will be familiar with the father's last name first.

    Magpie, and the rest of the world, will be used to whatever you present to them...but since you express concern about how other kids might be named, I thought I should share this point of view.

    All the best to all 3 of you... whatever you choose to call yourselves! :)

  60. I have a friend (who was not in the medical field at the time) who had a child out of wedlock and they decided for their daughter to have both their last names with a hyphen. However I know a doctor couple (both doctors) who the wife did not change her last name yet all three of their sons took their fathers last name. I know its not the same as naming your child but how Hubs and I decide on things that have us stumped is who cares more. For example circumcision of the boys, I could go either way and he had strong feelings on one way so we went his. There are many things that we were stumped as to what to do so not only did we express our feelings, put everything on the table but we generally went with whom ever had a stronger feeling than the other way. Im sure you will be able to figure something our prior to Lil Girl's arrival. I am so happy to see your ticker ticking away. :)


  61. When pregnant with our first child, our original decision was that if it was a girl to give her my surname, a boy his (our surnames are totally and utterly unable to be hyphenated, think 2 different colours). However when we found out it was a boy my sweet DH insisted on the baby having my name as he was the first grandchild on my side with many on the other side. When DS2 came along 6 years later there was never any question that he would have DHs surname.

    We have had no problems with school or travel (except the odd amused snicker when the parent with the opposite surname mentions their name and then the child's), all a complete non-event. In 8 years I've not had any negativity towards our decision, just interest on the (very) rare time that it comes up.

    I think you need to add
    (5) Magpie gets Mo's last name and Will's name is left off entirely
    to your list ;)

  62. I also got married in my 30s and did not take my husband's name (for a variety of reasons). Our son was born a little over five years ago. I knew long before he arrived that I wanted my children to have my last name as a middle name --- either the only middle name or a second middle name. When our son arrived we decided to keep it simple with his given name, my last name as middle name, my husband's last name as last name.

    Yes, people get confused. I find that people aren't confused that we are a family of different last names -- there are lots of different kinds of families out there -- rather, they are confused that husband and I are married to each other, and boy is ours, and we don't all share a last name. It bothers me only now and again. We just educate people about our choice. Honestly, I get more upset that people assume I am a "Mrs." than their confusion over my son's last name. If people ask, I note that I have my father's name, and my son has his father's name.

    Interestingly, as my son has gotten older and begun to understand our relationship, our names, and how many other families are named, he has started pointing out to people that he and I share a name even though most people don't know it.

    (been a lurker for a long time -- sooooo excited for both of you)

  63. I also did not take my husband's name and kept my own. When I was pregnant with our daughter we decided that we would agree on a first name, he would choose the middle name (with input from me) and she would have my last name. I second the vote to add a 5th option as Mo's last name. :)

  64. With the exception of one kid who has his mother's name, and two couples who both changed to something new themselves, all the married/partnered people's kids I know have either hyphenated names or their father's name, often with their mother's as a middle name.

    One of my daughter's classmates has his mother's name as part of his FIRST name.

  65. I was in the same situation as you when I married, I kept my name but then we inherited 5 kids a few years later and we needed to figure it out by the time the adoption came around. We decided to take the letters from both of our last names and make a new name. My hubby and I were starting a new family away from our not so stellar families so we were fine with giving up our last names. In the end Hubby came up with Promise. It actually turned out to be a good name considering the adoption and our marriage were all promises.

  66. I grew up with my mom and step-dad, and ALWAYS felt left out because everyone was a.... Smith, and I was a ..... Jones. Christmas cards said the Smith Family, I always had to answer questions in school, etc. I just always hated it. That being said I'm a teacher in NJ now and I have quite a few students with hypen last names. Honestly, it's no big deal, especially when they're short. Some even so so right together, I don't even notice. The only time it is an issue is when they are both long or really don't sound right. And nowadyas, with so many unconventional families, we never assume anything based on last names.

    Not sure how much help that was! Just thought I'd share.

  67. My examples are secondhand, since I took my husband's last name when we married. In exchange, he switched to my religion. However I have friends that have done several of your options.

    One couple each kept their own names when they married. When they had a child they had a similar debate that ended when the husband (Indian heritage) said he could give their son a name with a dozen letters and one vowel. So my friend decided to let him have the last name and she chose their son's first name and her maiden name was the son's middle name. As far as I know, there were never any issues at school (she was by far more involved than the dad) or traveling internationally, which they did often, because she had a different last name than her son.

    Other friends chose to all hyphenate their last name because the wife didn't want to give up her original name and the husband's main issue was that the whole family have the same name. Their names were each one syllable and five letters long. They have had questions about what their two daughters will do when they marry since there would be three last names in the picture, but he answers that it will be their decision at the time.

  68. Wow, so many comments!

    I don't know a single couple in which the woman has kept her name, BUT it is very common here for the woman to move her maiden name to her middle and make her husband's name her new last name. So, as a sort of nod to that, maybe she could be Magpie Moslastname Willslastname? And honestly, in 30 years she might decide to change her own name when she gets married, so it may not last forever anyway. The first name is what is going to define her more than the last, I think.

    Funny story? Friend is a pediatrician, and sees some interesting baby names. For example, Magpie could be "ABCDE," pronounced "absidee." Or "La-a," pronounced "Ladasha - the dash ain't silent." Poor kids!

  69. Our 2 daughters have a hyphenated last name. The crazy thing is it's very long and of 2 nationalities (he's a Irish last name and mine is a Japanese last name, though we're both Canadian). The reasoning is when they are old enough they can choose for themselves if they aren't happy with it. In the meantime they will get to know their alphabet well!

  70. I married young (22) and changed my name, in part because I wanted to and in part because there was no way I was going to hyphenate and saddle my kids with "Friedemann-Uckelman". You just *know* what that would turn in to.

    Over here in the Netherlands, many couples don't get married until their kids are teenagers or even older. Even when they do marry, surname switching is not common. Kids invariably have just their father's surname. There isn't generally problems with who belongs to whom because people here are used to kids not having the same surname as their parents. So when taking all things into consideration, I would recommend also looking at what is done in your immediate vicinity, in the place where Magpie will most likely be growing up.

  71. My husband and I both kept our birth names after we got married, as we had already published under that name. During all our years of trying to conceive we agreed that if it was a girl, then she would take my surname (I also have my mother's surname), and if it was a boy, then he would take my husband's surname.

    It was a boy, so we went with my husband's surname as a last name, and my surname as a middle name.

    You may also want to read this study:
    "Resumes with "white" names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews"

  72. I have a different last name to the kids and it poses no problem. Here in Australia the whole family's names are on your medicare card which I routinely carry anyway but we've never had any issues. The biggest confusion has been a teacher asking who's mum is called "xyz" when handing in a class help form because my name didn't match anyone in the class.

    To be honest I didn't give it a lot of thought, it just seemed the most straightforward thing to signify he is their father given we chose not to get married well before they arrived. I don't feel any less connected to them for the lack of sharing a name. His family name is way less common and has more ties to their area my partner's rellies are from, and our son may be the only one to pass the name on, being the only grandson of a single son. I hope some of the girls may keep their name and pass it on too, obviously these things are no longer slave to convention so who knows.

  73. I'm against putting two names together. It's just all too much. Personally I would take wills name and give my child that name.

  74. My husband and I also have different last names. Before we had kids we decided that any girls we had would take my last name and any boys would take his last name and we would use the other parents name as one of the middle names. We did this partly because we felt that hyphenated names aren't sustainable past one generation and we really felt strongly that just because traditionally children are given their father's last name was not a reason to do this. So our daughter's full name is 'First name' 'Middle name 1' 'Middle name 2 which is my husband's last name' and 'Last name, same as mine.' We travel alot internationally and have not had any problems with this. Good luck with the decision!

  75. We confused the issue even further. Monkey got a first name, a middle name, MY mother's maiden name, and my husband's last name (and 2 Hebrew names, but that's a story for another time). I grew up with my mother's family but not my father's, so my name (which I kept and which is inextricably linked to my professional identity) has always had less meaning to me than my grandparents' last name. It was actually a bit of a mess in those early days- his birth certificate says Monkey Middle Mom's Last Dad's Last. His social security card says Monkey Middle Dad's Last. His back accounts somehow came out as M. Mom's Last Dad's Last. We had to do some quick detective work to make sure it was all legal and that he could access everything under his name. Whatever you do, my best advice to you is to fill out all that paperwork carefully- those lines are awfully small and there's a lot to squeeze in!

    Whatever Magpie' name turns out to be, can't wait to hear it.

  76. Wow a lot of people weighed in on this! I'm sure someone has already suggested this: how about your last name as magpies middle name and wills last name as her last name? I had a HUGE fight with my husband the night before my c-section--don't recommend that!

  77. I didn't change my name, and we gave our daughter my husband's last name, largely because it sounds bettter. My husband thought it was only fair, also, because our dog has my last name, at least according to the vet and NYC's records!

    Many professional women I know just sort of fake it with school and kid-related things, where they are known as Mrs. Husband's name. But professionally they continue to use their maiden name. Sounds like it would be confusing but they say that its works!

  78. My kids have firstname middlename mylastname dadslastname. They go by firstname dadslastname.

    It works fine.The harder thing is mylittle on has a "typically boy" name for her first name and they always think she is a boy. Not so much now that she has an adorable ponytail.

  79. We're another 2 mom household but both of our first names are the same, so there was never an option to have one last name for the two of us :-)

    Our daughters both use
    Mom1LastName as their second middle name and Mom2LastName as their last name. It's definitely important to my youngest that she has both of our names, although she doesn't always remember who's who. Just the other day, at age 7, she asked me, "Are you
    Mom1LastName or Mom2LastName?"

  80. Hi Mo, as a child I hated my last name so was happy to relinquish it when I got married. In Ireland most people take their husband's name on marriage. Personally I love short names, so much easier to say and when signing something. You make my day each time you post something on your blog.

  81. Is there any chance you could eventually change your last name and use your maiden name in your professional life but your married name in your personal life? I think maybe more difficult to deal with two names, but probably easier for your daughter. For me I always wanted to have the same last name as my child. For some reason that was/ is important to me. But I think every person is different in that respect. I think it depends how important it is to you that your maiden name is represented.

  82. I haven't had a chance to read all the comments, but I never changed my last name for the same reasons as you. However, my son has my husband's last name. My kid's will have my last name as their middle name. That way they have both as a part of them but for me its so much easier not to hyphenate but I never really had an issue with it at any point and I have no issues with his last name.

  83. and to second, I could imagine a mother with a different last name wouldn't be an issue for a mother-child [I have had ZERO issues at doctor's offices, planes, etc even when traveling alone] but I could see that a father with a different last name from his daughter could cause issues. Sad but the nature of things. Though this could be rectified by keeping the birth certificate on hand at all times.

  84. I kept my name for the first couple year of my marriage. Both my degrees were in that name and I had a hard time giving that up. But...ultimately I decided a name is just a name and my accomplishments still stood so at about 7 months pregnant with our first child....I just changed to my husband's name. It made me feel like we were all that one single nucleus family that I always wanted. I thought it would be hard...but it hasn't. I kept my name at work for a while after...but legally (passport and such) I now had my husband's name and ultimately the name our son got. I think it is not uncommon for a female to change her name legally for home but still "use" her original name professionally. You may just want to look into that and then when you do travel as a family or go to school functions...you all have the same name. Just a thought, not sure how you feel about that.

  85. I loved seeing so many others with this issue! My husband and I were both established professionals before we married 15 years ago and we kept our own names. It was something of a battle, but I gave in and all of our three children (3-13 years) have mom/my last name as middle name and dad's last name as last name. I have never had a problem traveling, even internationally, and I have never had a problem with being identified as the parent of my kids at school or elsewhere. Sometimes we get called by the other last name but whatever. I think it is far more common these days and most people just roll with it. I was opposed to hyphenating or having a double last name b/c I know too many people for whom it has been a major hassle. Let us know what you decide!

  86. Do you feel cheated not carrying on your mother's last name? (Assuming you carry your father's...) If not, give her Will's name. (I'm a traditionalist, though. ;) You and her will have a very special bond, being her mom, and I feel it's a wonderful way to honor her dad. I felt that way about my maiden name, up until I took my husband's. I know you will make the right choice for your family, whatever it might be. Good luck!

  87. I think it's great you are taking this so seriously. My experience...although I would not recommend this...I was very established professionally under my last name and kept it for work, but took my husband's name for all things personal. Our kids have my husband's last name. The problem is, sometimes what is work and what is personal gets confusing sometimes. And I get confused sometimes, as with any work situation I introduce myself with one name and any personal situation the other. SO, not ideal, but I do like having the same last name as my kids and I've made the whole two different names thing work for the most part.
    WIll be interested to hear what you decide...

  88. Okay -- chiming in (WOW what feedback you've gotten already)!!! -- just to say that I'm opposed to you changing your last name. I know the majority of women do it -- but really, I'm in my late 30s, a professional, and really just don't get abandoning your name. A second thought (okay, I'm a lawyer) is that I've seen quite a few people then return to their maiden name. Not to ever suggest that would happen -- but really, people change their name and then want their name back.

    I don't have much substantive addition about what to do for Magpie. Though honestly, her name's not REALLY Magpie? (lol). I get not doing the hyphenating. But otherwise, I think anything will work. I agree that the first name is the more important. And if you really want to name Magpie after someone, and want to use that as a middle name, well then, you don't need to use your last name for the middle name.

    I guess I see it this way -- you carried her. Your the Mom. You can give her Will's last name, but she's always going to be "yours."

  89. I can give you a perspective from someone who was given her mother's maiden name as a second middle name. As a kid, I hated this. My mom would always write in two middle initials for me or write my full name with the second middle name. To me, all I cared about was that it seemed different than the other kids and I only wanted one middle name. As I got older, maybe around high school, I just stopped ever using it. I felt strongly connected to each of my parents heritage in other ways. I would personally give your little girl your husband's name, and if it is important to you, maybe your name as the only middle name.

  90. I wonder if you've considered the other possibility of the child just having your name as their last name. Two of my sisters-in-law did this. One of them used the father's name as a middle name. This is a bit unusual but it seems to have worked for them.

  91. My husband and I don't share a name, my son has my husband's name. I haven't had any issues with it yet (my son was hospitalized briefly and he goes to daycare, so one would think that in those sorts of situations, last names of the parents might matter). However, you raise a valid point about travelling internationally. I think if only you and Magpie were planning on travelling w/o Will (or he without you), you are always wise to have some sort of "non-kidnapping affidavit" - so I've heard, so that would be clear that whom ever has the child is the parent and legal guardian, if the whole gang is travelling, its a non-issue.

  92. I love that you'll soon be meeting Magpie and that you're in a position to be facing these practical dilemmas.

    I kept my maiden name after marriage, but when we immigrated, the US government automatically issued my residency permit in my married name. They then automatically issued my social security card in my husband's name. I had a passport in my maiden name, greencard and SSN in my husband's name. When I tried to open a bank account, get a license or whenever I had to show picture ID, it was a gigantic mess. So I changed everything to my husband's name, because re-issuing a greencard was more hassle than I could handle.

    Try getting the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service and the DMV to all be on one page! Impossible. I felt bullied by bureaucracy into using his last name, instead of happily and willingly accepting it. Nothing "wrong" with his last name, it's just not "my" name.

    Fast forward 6 years of establishing myself professionally using my husband's name. When I became a US citizen, I decided to reclaim my maiden name. Of course, I had to battle the bureaucracy all over again, but this time I felt vindicated.

    Fast forward another few years and I became pregnant. I just couldn't even contemplate changing my name again. So, I have my hardwon maiden name back, and my 3 kids all have their dad's last name. I didn't give them my last name as a middle name - it would have just sounded weird and it would have been cumbersome.

    It was more important for ME to have MY dad's last name that I was born with than to pass it along to my children. Ultimately, since they're all girls, they may not choose to keep their dad's last name anyway... Our kids are not in school yet, but so far we haven't run into any issues in terms of others questioning my relationship with my kids.

    At docters' offices and for general social purposes, I often just used my husband's last name for simplicity sake. I used it for 6 years, so it rolls of my tongue pretty easily. I agree with others who've said you can and should use your name professionally/officially, and then just use his name in situations of your choosing. You can unofficially go by 2 names, like I do, and use one name at work, and another name at home. I chose not to hyphenate, because I just think it's too cumbersome and awkward.

    Good luck with this decision. I hope you have peace with whatever direction you choose to go.

  93. *rolls OFF my tongue (not of).

    Sorry for the novel, but wanted to share the perspective of someone who had gone through the name change process twice, and who had experienced both keeping a maiden name, and accepting a married name.

  94. I had an easy time with this when my daughter was born, as I'm single. But when I was a kid, I had a different last name than my mom and it never bothered me. I had my dad's last name, but lived with my mom and step-dad. My mom kept her maiden name, so there were three people in the house, all with different last names. It really wasn't an issue. It was may have been confusing for my teachers for about a minute, but they caught on fast and it was never a problem.

  95. This is a comment regarding the choice between hyphen or no hyphen between two last names. I was married w/ married name, and was professionally known & licensed under married name. I divorced and last name legally changed to maidenmarried. (23 letters combined. UGH) Each office/entity had their own rules on how to deal with this. Some used the name as it was to be (two words with a space in the middle) making one name, some made maiden my middle and married the last, some hyphenated anyways, some used maiden. It was a mess keeping track of which agency/department/office used what name and why. I recomend using a hyphen instead of a space if you go with two last names as one, simply because hyphens indicate to the most "difficult" agency the name is all together, rather than giving them the option of choosing on their own. When I remarried, I took only new husband's last name - and lost not only 80% of the letters, but also lost all of the confusion and inconsistency in my legal documents!

  96. Where I live (a neon blue city in a bright blue state), it's very, very common for women to keep their original last names. Because it's so common, there are really never any issues.

    In almost all cases, though, where there is a dad, the kids get the dad's last name -- sometimes with the mom's name as a middle name or first last name.

    But, even when the mom's name is tecnically included,the kids tend to go by Firstname Dad'slastname, so the mom's last name is essentially lost.

    Around here, the only families who seem to consistently all share the same last name -- either hyphenated or not -- are two-mom families.

    Note: I didn't change my name when I married, but my kids all have their dad's last name.

    And, honestly, I really regret not insisting that at least one of them have my last name.

  97. This was one topic that I felt really strongly about when I had my son. I wanted him to have both our surnames so hyphenating seemed the best choice. My partner wasn't really keen (he was happy for it to be either surname) but he went along with it. Hyphenating is really common, as is differing surnames for parent/s children - at least here in Melbourne, Australia. As a teacher I've seen all variations and I don't think it has any negative impact on the child. I personally like hyphens as it reflects the legacy of both parents, not sure why it should be just one.

  98. While I understand the dilemma and all the practical, emotional implications (or at least THINK I do), I can't help but find it interesting that even of the three "egalitarian" options, the idea of combining your names somehow and putting YOUR name last (and Will's as a middle name or first part of a last name) wasn't an option. The feminist in me can't help but note this, but the single mommy in me is just glad I didn't have to negotiate this issue!

  99. Fascinating comments! What a variety of options and opinions. I've been reading for years and just wanted to throw in my two cent's worth....I'd say go with Magpie then Mo'slastname as the middle name and then Will'slastname as the last name. I think the hypen or two last names would be too cumbersome for a kid. I know plenty of women who kept their name, but then the child has the husband's last name. I would also encourage you to continue keeping your own name as a result of your publishing, etc. Socially and when Magpie is in school, you might just wind up being called "Mrs's Willslastname." I also really liked the comment of the person above who said they would explain it to Magpie as "You have your dad's last name, and I have my dad's last name." However, whatever decision you and Will make will be the right one for your family. Thanks for sharing! Heather

  100. Look at you, talking about names and stuff. You're going to have a baby!!! (I just had to throw that in there because I've been following along.)

  101. I am terribly biased, but I think this is one of those Ask A Lesbian moments, as we don't have Tradition to consider and can therefore be freer in our choices (theoretically).

    As your resident Lesbian, I am shocked not to see a "spirit animal" choice on this list.

    Just kidding. Including about the idea that lesbians somehow agree on what to do here.

    This lesbian, whose situation is otherwise fairly similar to yours (two parents who did not want to change or hyphenate their own names) went with leaving ours alone, hyphenating the kid's. It's slightly annoying to spell out loud and otherwise no big deal. No one has expressed confusion or surprise, and we both "sound like" his parents.

    We are in NYC, so I can guarantee your kid wouldn't be the only one -- nor would she be with any of those options, spirit animal included. As for whether it's a burden for him, none of my hyphenated childhood friends ever complained about it, and if it means having to think carefully about what to do if/when our kids marry or have kids of their own, well, what of it? Is it so unreasonable to expect that they might think about such things? And mightn't they, even without hyphens? After all, we are.

  102. Back in the blogosphere and have been catching up on your story...can I tell you the shivers I got when I learned you are about to have your long-awaited and so, so deserved baby?? Just could not be happier for you...it makes me feel there IS justice, eventually, in the baby wish department of life.

    FWIW, don't really have experience with the name thing as I just took my husband's name BUT I wonder if you could adopt both last names (without hyphen) in a formal way (for purposes of travel, documents, etc.) but then "commonly" use just his name -- the last, last name -- like in school, everyday life, conversation, etc.? It might just be simpler?

    As far as being dumbfounded that you're about to be parents...I STILL feel that way and my H is now 2.5. My first words when he came out were "there was a real baby in there!" and I've never gotten over that fact.

    Just so thrilled for you!

  103. Saw this post and thought of you! Hope you are doing well! :) http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/09/marriage-do-or-dont-changing-your-name.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FbboSV+%28A+CUP+OF+JO%29

  104. It's the 27th!
    It's the last 27th till she gets here!

  105. I think there's something sweet about the "old tradition" of taking your husband's name. I don't look at it at all like I'm giving something up. I couldn't wait to change my name and love that our whole family has unity around our name. We call ourselves "Team LastName". Anyway, in your situation, I get that you don't want to change your name professionally. If you want to have Mo'sLastName in the mix, I like it as a middle name with Will'sLastName as Magpie's last name. Like others have said, she may change it one day anway.

    YOU'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!!!! I'm due 10/28, we're almost there!

  106. As a teacher in a very conservative area, I just don't think it matters much anymore. Half the kids in my class have different last names than their moms or dads, and it's not as big of a deal as it used to be. Besides, when Mag starts school, you provide a birth certificate, etc., for identification purposes...

  107. Hi Mo and Will

    What a wonderful dilemma to have! Yay!

    I am published and have my licence in my name and my husband is an established professional also, but, our decision when our daughter came along 6 months ago was easy...my last name is a European one, difficult to spell and say, and his is not. Wonderfully easy.

    So we gave our daughter a beautiful European first name, made my last name her middle name, and gave her my husbands last name. Everyone gets a little something, and she wont be 10 years old before she learns to spell her last name! Which would have been awful, hyphenated! Yikes. It just wouldn't flow...

    My husband was also willing to have her take just my last name, which was a sweet gesture, but, really, I didn't want my daughter forever answering "how do you say/spell that?" I'm still doing that and it drives me nuts!

    Have fun making your choices. I am so happy that you get to do this...

    physician chick from the great white north.

  108. Hi Mo

    firstly - congratulations! Another one of those who follow your blog faithfully but never comment :)

    As for your current problem - I don´t have a personal experience, but a friend of mine does. She never married her partner, but they have two gorgeous girls together - she has her own last name, and her girls have her partner´s last name. As far as I know, they never had any issues with it.

    And just the interest value... I recently gave birth to a baby boy - not my own, I was a gestational surrogate for some lovely friends. They decided to give the boy my last name as his middle name. As the surrogacy laws here state that the baby is legally mine for the first 30 days of its life, I had to apply for his birth certificate. While it was being processed, I had three - THREE - separate phone calls from three different people to check that I filled the form in correctly and my last name was really only his middle name...

    Whatever you decide, don´t stress about it too much. Magpie will always know who her mum is, regardless of surnames!

  109. Wow! A lot of comments on this one. Of course you will make a decision based on what works for your family. When I married I dropped my middle name, made my maiden name my middle name, and took my husbands last name. I liked my last name and was attached to it, but never considered not taking my husband's last name. I didn't like my middle name, so it just worked out. Our son is a Jr. so it was never up for discussion with him. Of course not knowing the actual names, I can't say what I would choose, because I am all about how a name flows LOL....so, let's pretend that all options would flow nicely.....my vote would be Magpie(first name) Mo's last name as middle name and Will's last name as last name. Whatever you decide.....I am sure it will be a great name for your beautiful daughter!! :)

  110. Dont give up on the inclusion of your last name. Baby Jay has my maiden name as his middle name, but the fact is Rocco still says "Come on M...occo family!" when it is time leave the house.

    I am a total dick but it bugs the ever loving shit out of me.

    You'll make the right call.

  111. We had exactly the same issues you describe; a couple in their thirties with publications in their own name. We decided to hyphenate the kids last names, each of which was a two syllable name. Besides not wanting to give up my maiden name, I was worried that if the kids only had one last name, different from one of us confusion would arise. The kids are teenagers and young adults now. They know that they can change their name if they want as adults and neither seems to feel the need to lose the hyphen for now. When they would bicker as kids, I told them they needed to stick together because they were the only people in the world with their unique hyphenated name. I am not sure they accepted the logic but it stopped the bickering.;). I think no matter what you decide if you don't do the traditional thing, some people will grumble about it but the important thing is that you and Will do what feels right to you. It seems like a big deal now but believe me, it won't be the biggest decision you make for your child--and it is decision that actually is reversible if you change your mind. Best Wishes to all three of you!!

  112. I kept my last name for reasons similar to yours. It wasn't really a feminist thing, since I have my dad's last name. :) I just felt like it was my name, and it meant something professionally, and I wanted to keep it. My daughter has my husband's last name, because why not? And my last name didn't sound as pretty as a middle name for her as the one we ended up choosing. I have never had any problems at school, doctor's office, or traveling with her related to the fact that we have different last names.

    At school sometimes they call me Mrs. or Ms. (husband's/daughter's last name) and I just let it go. It's not really important unless someone's booking me an airline ticket. I recently found out it's not even important if someone's writing me a check.

    It just seems like it's not a problem or confusion for anyone - I have had no problems over almost 4 years. The only question that matters is: do you care if your daughter has your last name in her name somewhere, or not?

  113. Gosh. I didn't change my name when we got married, and the one and only pre-nuptial agreement we had was that if we had children, girls would get my last name, boys would get his. Well, we have one girl. She has my last name. It's never been an issue, although once the school system made a stupid assumption that he was her stepfather. I took them to task for that.

    I like it because it bucks the system, it's a tiny rebellion. The girl likes it because it bonds us in a further way (actually, our initials are the same).



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