Before we got married, my husband and I talked about whether I’d change my last name. It was a short conversation that went something like this: Him: “Are you going to change your last name when we get married?” Me: “No.” Him: “Cool.” We mailed out wedding invites with the RSVP envelopes routing them back to Mr. his name and Ms. my name, and I managed to cringe only a little bit when presents started rolling in addressed to Mr. & Mrs. his name. In the years since I’ve grown used to being misnamed and have learned to let it roll off my back. It’s annoying to be called the wrong name but, once I correct people, it’s not usually an issue.
When I became pregnant with my first son, the discussion of names came up again. Like most parents, we wanted to find a name somewhere in the sweet spot between unique and weird. We quickly settled on name number 534 on the Social Security Administration popularity ranking and got to work trying out the sound of our soon-to-be son’s name on our lips. As my due date approached, we realized that we’d have to give him a last name, too, and since we both made him, we decided he should carry both of our names. That conversation was pretty short also: Him: “Should we give him my last name or yours?” Me: “Let’s just hyphenate them.” Him: “Cool.” And so, in January 2014 when my nine-pound, nine-ounce ball of love screamed his way into the world, we had no trouble filling out his birth certificate with the names we’d chosen and going about our business.
As the days, weeks, and months of his first year ticked by though, we began to realize that, while having a hyphened last name is increasingly common in the U.S., it wasn’t common enough to avoid all kinds of comments and questions about why we would saddle our kiddo with a clunky, too long, impractical last name. If you’re a fellow hyphenating parent or are considering becoming one, you’ll definitely hear some, if not all, of the comments below:
Please note: this is not a compliment. While creativity is prized in many facets of life, such as picture painting, flower arranging, or poetry composing, it is generally not looked upon favorably when it comes to baby naming. When this happens, please, feel free to silently mock the critic’s own top 10 baby name choice.
Maybe this is a southern thing but, for some reason, a good number of people whose paths I cross have been very concerned about my son’s inability to have his baby blanket or backpack or lunch bag stamped with a few letters that scream, “I’m rich! Rich enough to personalize my stuff! No one will be using this as a hand-me-down!” I’m sure there are all kinds of lovely ways to monogram with a hyphenated name but, despite my southern upbringing, I’ve yet to investigate it.
It takes a village!
Join ours. Before we were parents, we were people. Sign up for tips and stories from parents who get it.