Saturday, June 18, 2005

What's in a name?

As the divorce papers that began the filing process before New Years' are actually, truly filed now (a comedy of errors involving having them sent back at least twice - if anyone out there files in Indiana, know the forms must be in triplicate -- apparently they can't photocopy 'em themselves!-- and you must pay with a money order only. Grr.) I am now thinking about names. Should I go back to my maiden name? Let me share some of the pros and cons.

1) If I changed my name, it would be different than the kids'. Now, this is common enough nowadays as to not cause too many questions - between multiple marriages and divorces, and the fact that as UUs we tend to be around people who were liberated enough not to change names when they got married, it might cause a bit of confusion, but not shock or dismay. I am, however, not sure if it will bother the -kids-. But if you take my poll, please assume that it's ok with them, and I promise I'll check it with them before I do anything. :) (edited 19Jun05 to verify that yes, the kids are OK with this--we talked last night.)

2) I've used my current name in business for the last 13 years; it's the only name I've ever had at Lilly, and it is a big ol' PITA to change your name at work - you become hard to find in e-mail for people who don't know your new name, and you have to fill out forms for a billion different systems (though it's easier for me now than it would have been when I was at the helpdesk - at one point, I had counted, and had more than 22 separate login accounts!!! S'what happens when you have password change privleges, and provide backup support to every support queue.) Now, it's certainly not not-do-able; just complex.

3) I hesitate to take my dad's name back when he and I don't particularly get along. Is it a slap in my mom's face to take back the name of someone who hurt her that badly?

4) Darnit, if I take my maiden name back I go back to being at the end of the alphabet! :)

1) There is a certain appeal in having a name that is unlinked with another person. Until I changed my name for two marriages, I did think "what's in a name?" But the truth is, one's name DOES have something to do with how one perceives oneself. I know I had personality changes when I changed my name, and I think it contributed to the loss of self-identity I experienced in the early 90's (not the ONLY reason by a long shot; just one more straw on the camel's humph. :) ). You men out there don't have an equivalent experience, and it really -does- give some sort of psychological connotation of "ownership" or of being the person who changes, compromises, does all the giving in a relationship. That sounds too psychobabble-trite to be true, but in my experience there is a subconscious effect that I for one didn't expect before it happened. That's part of why making up a name is tempting. OTOH, making up a name involves a whole lot more explanation than just taking back one's maiden name. And besides, how would one make one up? I mean, I have one I used in the neopagan community - but that one was also linked to the ex, which makes it no different than keeping my current name. If part of the reason to do this is to identify myself unlinked with anyone else, then that name doesn't make sense to take either.

2) In support of taking back my maiden name, "Vachet," despite the fact that I don't get along very well with my dad and grandmother, the family name itself has interesting history. Through my Vachet name, I am descended from French royalty (Charlemaigne among others), as well as William of Orange (the man who freed the Netherlands for religious tolerance); Pierre You, one of the members of LaSalle's 1682 expedition down the Mississippi, who also married a Miami Indian; the first permanent settler in Indiana, and John and Pricilla Alden of the Mayflower. That's all pretty darned cool, and something I could honor, even if some members of my family have been flakes. :)

3) No one can spell or pronounce my maiden name - but no one can spell or pronounce my current name, either. :) However, I -could- (and this is an idea that appeals to me) take my maiden name back but pronounce it with its French pronunciation, "va-SHAY." Since the name has been in the Americas since the late 1600s, it's been Anglicized into "VA-chet." But when Mom named me, she was thinking of how pretty the name would sound if it were pronounced the French way: Suzanne Michelle Vachet. That would be a way of taking the name I was born with and making it mine. Would that be too pretentious?

(Added bonus: Had a distant cousin who changed the pronunciation and it royally ticked off my dad and grandparents. So if I wanted to be pissy, it'd be appropriate. :))

4) In re: hesitating to link with family members who I don't get along with, the advantage is that there are hardly any of them around any more - there weren't that many in the first place - and so it's not like they'll know one way or the other anyway, or that anyone else will know them to link me to them. Besides which, I -like- my aunt. (Though, of course, she doesn't go by her maiden name either. Come to think of it, she might have the longest-lasting marriage I can think of. Given that my uncle's pretty cool himself, I think they've both done well.)

The more I think of it, the more I'm leaning towards that French pronunciation option. Anyone want to chime in an opinion?

What's in a name?
Should I change my name when my divorce is final?
No, keep your current name so that it is the same as your kids name.
No, keep your current name because it is the only name you have been known by at work.
Yes, change it to your maiden name, but pronounce it va-SHAY.
Yes, change it to your maiden name, and pronounce it the way the rest of your family did when you were growing up (VA-chet).
Yes, but change it to a name you made up for yourself (if you select this option, please post any suggestions in the comments section of my blog!).


D Kingsmith said...

Certainly the option of using your maiden name and changing the pronounciation is a good one and would be my second choice.

But if you don't particularly care for the relatives associated with it, why not look at your mother's side of the family?

Use her maiden name. Or go back through the first names of your matriarcal line and find one that would work.

For instance, my mom's grandmother's name was Minon. It would have made a great last name.

I almost went that route, but, when Mom remarried, I opted to combine the now different last names of my parents into my own unique last name. It represent both of my parents, yet left me an individual name of my own.

Pendragon said...

Look - I know that the city in Indiana is "vir SALES" and not "vair SIGH" but Hoosiers are woeful . . . well, hicks. And I'm writing AS one. Even so, when you mentioned the name "Verchet" the first time in your comments I pronounced in my head "vair SHAY." And I never took any French.

So as a practical matter I'm in favor of asusming your ACTUAL, PROPERLY PRONOUNCED maiden name if you must make any change at all, or . . .

Have you considered adopting your MOTHER's maiden name? Oops - just read M. Kingsmith's - looks like my idea isn't original. What was your mother's maiden name?

And - guess what? Whatever your decree says your name is, Lily can't object if you TELL THEM it's actually Meprhqoaviubhafw, pronounced "Smith." (they may object if you tell them a new name four times a week. They may even attempt to test some of their pharmaceuticals on you if you persist.) The quote they gave us in law school was, "The law doesn't care what you call yourself, as long as you're not evading prosecution."

So don't limit your choices until after you choose.

Tina said...

I haven't voted in the poll because, well, I'm not sure.

But there's one thing you left off the 'con': you're published under your married name. And you can tell I'm a writer because that was the first thing I thought of.

Anyhow. Changing one's name may be a pain in some ways but it's also a fairly well-routinized pain -- more tedium than actual trouble. So I wouldn't consider that any sort of main issue. The only consideration really is: what rings true to you?

Which doesn't help, I guess.

Brian D. said...

Do you know how hard it would be for me to learn your new name, get your new email address, have to edit my address book?

Think of your old friends Suzanne!!!!!!! :-)

Celayne said...

What about both? Being married for so long there are changes that have become custom for you. If you hyphinate, then, you keep the same last name as your kids, there will not be a uproar in the work envoronment. Another reason would be that you could say to the world, "Yes, I was married for a long time, my marriage was wonderful yet tragic. I have become the person that I am through out that marriage and divorce. I am now an evolved being and my choosen name is now with me, yet I am not denying where I have come from, nor who I was or how I got here." The French pronounciation would be perfect with your married name. Just my two cents, they are a little out of order, but you get the idea.

Suzanne said...

Re: published under my married name - Actually, I'm not published under my -legal- name anywhere, just my Pagan name, so that's irrelevant.

Re: matriarchal line - Unfortunately, I don't know much of that, as Mom's mom died when she was young. I do know her mom's maiden name (Craddock), but I'm not sure I like it significantly more than my maiden name. And I don't know it back from there at all. I just don't have tons of links with family, with the exception of the genealogy that a cousin did on my Dad's family.

And re: hyphenating - I've been married -twice- before. So while I could hyphenate, part of me wants to just put all the name changes behind me and go back to a single name I can stay with for the rest of my life. ( A, if I were to ever re-marry, I wouldn't change my name again. B, as my life currently stands, I'm dating someone who is virulently anti-marriage so future name changes are a moot point for now. :))

Besides which, I don't particularly -like- Egbert. Sounds like one of the less pleasant Dilbert characters... :)

So at the moment, I'm leaning towards Vachet-pronounced-vaSHAY. After all, that's who I started out being.

Nanette Richards said...

I voted for you to keep the same last name as your kids... keeps the spot light off of them when someone notices the difference.

However, if you're going to go back to your maiden name... for the love of God, please pronounce it properly! lol I can see the darting eyes now, but I'm French-Canadian, and I lived in Boston for a while and it killed me to hear a man's name pronounced "Ben-oyt" as opposed to "Ben-wa". I really can't imagine changing the pronounciation of Benoit.... but it's happened :)

Good luck, whatever you choose!