Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What's In A Name?

Lately, a few people have asked me what Itsy's last name will be.

It's weird because the question, for me, comes out of left field, whereas for those asking, it is completely logical.

It's weird on one hand because such a question continues along the lines of treating kid #2 differently than kid #1 just because I wasn't around when kid #1 was born (see this for an explanation). As an example, just today, a colleague of mine was asking about BioMom and I's respective time off once Itsy comes out (we're very lucky, I have six weeks off which we'll enjoy together, followed by BioMom being off until May-ish, after which I'll take the summer and fall off). When I said that I'd be back at school in the spring she pondered for a moment and followed up with something to the effect of 'I suspect that you'll fall in love with this baby and not want to leave it!' I dunno why that bothers me so. Of course I'll fall in love with Itsy (I think I have already and all I've seen so far are its Alien-like punches through BioMom's belly and a bi-monthly heatbeat!), but it feels somehow that I will be less willing to leave Itsy than the FYO.

Its weird on the other hand because I am simply not attached to the idea of ownership generally, and particularly over the brood. Just to be clear, if you're wondering, it will be "Itsy [BioMom & FYO's Last Name]." In fact, I have to say that I sort of LIKE the fact that I have a different last name. It clarifies, in my mind, that they are separate people. Independent.

I am not opposed to changing my own name, or even hyphenating it. When I express this, I often get a nod of approval from these curious friends, which also strikes me as odd. Or the suggestion that we all hyphenate our names.

Ultimately, I wonder why? Why change at all? Why hyphenate and add to the already challenging minutia of the day-to-day?

I could argue that as a lesbian family, taking the traditional route is a countercultural act. I have friends that share each other's names and I think it is a wonderful act of committment.

I suspect, too, that it makes life easier in some ways to just have the same name.

What I really wonder about though, is all of the social baggage that people put on a name. So much so, that they feel like they can comment on our personal choices.



Joe from the OC said...

Curious why you are not having the baby as Biomom has already had that experience. As a man I see that as a big Lesbian advantage, both women have the oppurtunity to experience carrying a child.

eryn said...

I enjoyed your post. My partner and I have been trying to figure out the last name dilemma for a while.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I decided to share one last name(hers) to create one more sense of family for us and our kids. We felt like the hyphenated thing is just one more thing for us and the kids to deal with. That's just what worked for us.

giddings said...

I love the idea that there are "big Lesbian advantages"! I think my new favorite acronym is going to be BLAs as in "I have the BLAs!"

Okay, on a side note, joe from the oc, and I say this only because BioMom and I were in that "mind body" group for fertility and I learned a whole lot about that, you need to be careful assuming that all women can, in fact, bear children.

Since I personally have no clue as to my degree of fertility, I take no offense. You know, I would have tried to have a kid had she not gotten pg. I say that knowing that all of my peeps out there in cyber land are having a hearty laugh at the thought of it. But yeah. I would have. And if, we find ourselves on some strange planet in the future where we are desiring a third, then well, the responsibility will probably fall on me. I'd love it (the experience of it, as you say). But I am also completely whole without it.

mermaidgrrrl said...

Another wacky BLA question that I get is "Why don't you have a baby at the same time as each other? Then you could raise your kids together!"
As if one hormonally rollercoasting woman isn't enough under one roof. As if it's that easy for 2 women to conceive in the same cycle. As if both of us want to carry. As if we're not going to raise our kid together anyway. Oh - it's just stupid on so many levels!
But beyond that.... in our state we're pretty limited with our legal rights in parenting together. We can't do second parent adoption and whilst we're going to have guardianship papers drawn up and everything, at least with the same last name we show we're a family unit (no matter what our Prime Minister says) and it shows intent for legal reasons. I'm currently still using my ex-husbands name (I changed it at marriage cause I can't stand my fathers family) and have been intending to change it to my grandmothers maiden name but have been holding off since being with my partner in case of children. We're going to hyphenate my grandma's maiden name with partners family name. I suspect her family will think it's odd but will be thrilled that our child (their first grandchild) will be sharing their family name.

I'm loving your blog Giddings - I'm going to send partner in your direction to read up!