I’m Having an Identity Crisis
by Dear DDD

Dear DDD,

I am so excited! I finally made the decision to go back to my maiden name. I have wanted to do this for years but my attorney advised me to wait until my children were older. As my children grew up, the thought of doing this was always on my mind but something always held me back – somehow the time never felt right. Well, here I am: a child in college, another heading to college and my youngest in high school. I now have three older children and I am ready for the change.

Recently a friend asked me why I never changed my name and I explained all the reasons of why I didn’t; After that conversation I really started to think about this, and I thought long and hard about this process. The time never felt right for me to do this. The most important reason I have not changed my name is because of my three children.

This is not an easy process. Once the court approves, here’s my name-change To Do list: change my name on countless documents, tell every one of the name change, which includes schools, sports organizations, associations, doctors, health care providers, postal service, insurance companies, the DMV, passport agency, social security card, bank accounts… the list goes on but I can tell you this – it’s time consuming.

Whenever I started to feel I had the guts to finally do this, something always stopped me. But now I’m ready, and right this moment the time feels right. It is time for me to go back to my identity. My identity before I married my EX.

My EX and his new wife and I live in the same town and I’m tired of being the third wheel. Tired of people asking me if I’m related to my EX and his wife. Finally I will have my identity back!

Once I made this decision I immediately called an attorney friend to ask for help.  She was happy to hear the news and offered to prepare the paperwork to get the process rolling. The next step was to set  an appointment to discuss the paper work and the court filing.

The night before my appointment, my youngest child and I went out for dinner and during our dinner conversation I casually mentioned that I was changing my name.

“I’m really happy I am meeting with an attorney tomorrow to change my name.” And then the conversation went quiet.

It’s like pulling a tooth to have a conversation with a teenager.

“How was school today?” No comment.

“How is your dinner?” Again, no comment.

“Honey, is something bothering you?”

As I was chatting away, my child stared at me with a look of disappointment.

“What’s wrong?”

“Mom, I can’t believe you are doing this. What is going to happen to us?”

“What do you mean?”

“Mom, how can you change your last name? You won’t be part of our family if you change your last name.”

“Of course I am going to be part of your family, nothing is going to happen to you, I am changing my name and you will continue to have your last name. I changed my name when I married your father, we have been divorced for a long time and his last name is not who I am anymore.”

“Mom, when we go to visit your family, we will always be the ones left out, not feeling like we are family because the three of us will have a different last name. We are never with Daddy, we are always with you but now our family will change. Our last name is who we are; it’s our family name. The four of us share this last name and our last name identifies us. It will be awkward for me to explain to my friends why you have a different last name.”

Shit! I wasn’t expecting this response. Thank God I casually mentioned this at our dinner. I feel horrible and it never crossed my mind to sit down with my children to discuss this. I just assumed everyone would be okay with my decision.

I was caught off guard – I never thought my children would be upset if I changed my last name but boy oh boy was I wrong.  Now I’m confronted  with the sad rejected face sitting across from me.

“I am so sorry, I never thought this would be so upsetting to you. I should have discussed this with you before I made my decision. I completely understand how you feel and changing my name can wait for a later time.”

Damn it! Well, maybe I can add my maiden name to my existing name – put a hyphen between my married name and maiden name…? NO it’s not the same. I want complete independence. If I am going to make this change I want it done right.

My children have been faced with so many obstacles and disappointments from this divorce. I have always been the parent lifting them up when they are down, the parent protecting them; the parent that has made decisions with an outcome that benefits all of us. I can’t let them down now. I just can’t move forward with this name change knowing how disappointed my children would be.

For now, I am sticking with my EX’s last name and maybe someday soon my identity independence will come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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