Actually it would seem a lot. What I have realised over the last few months and especially few weeks is that we define ourselves through our names from the very earliest of ages, and when that is questioned/disrupted at either 5 or 35 years old it throws us into a massive identity spin.
Gigi and I married last week and so the talk of names has been a contentious subject in our household for quite a while. Me not realising I had a problem with changing my name or that it was a big deal, me thinking Gigi didn’t care about our names and also me coming to the realisation that I had a whole other level of mum-guilt towards Rory regarding our surnames. It also turned out that a certain 5 year old also had a massive problem emotionally with me changing my name. So here it goes…
From almost day 1 it was just me and my pickle. Something in full for another story another time. We were in it together- me a ‘Begner’, him a ‘Kerr’ (side note; had I known we were to be in it together this would NOT have been the case), we were both different and he didn’t know any different. I would whisper to him a tiny baby half joking “Mummy and Rory forever, no girlfriends for you!”. I know, sounds a bit like a creepy reversed Oedipus complex but it was actually more a coping mechanism by realising and vocalising our bond which had basically got me through the hardest time of my life (that and co-sleeping with my mum for 4 weeks obviously). But then I found the one and his name became ‘Gigi’ and he loved Rory and Rory loved him. Rory was at a push 18 months old and we almost instantly became the family unit that is normal for nearly everyone else, that I didn’t think would ever really happen for me and Ror.
However, the last few months have been an emotional roller coaster for my pickle. He has several times tried his hardest to articulate his worries and concerns which are probably much bigger than he can manage to process; “…but if you become a Krantz and Huxley and Gigi are Krantz, then I’m the only one that isn’t”. If you could believe that there are such instances that your heart breaks for a small human when you can’t physically do anything to change a difficult situation, then this is one of them. How to explain to a 5 year old that you have tried, that despite shit happening TO us I can’t change it.
I have learnt to accept that because I didn’t know better and didn’t secure ‘Begner’ in Rory’s name, that whether I chose to grow a family or not, it would be more complicated for us. But I have also never had to process that he may feel left out if I ‘abandon’ him, leave him behind or make him feel that he’s not part of our team because he is now the ‘odd one out’. Unfortunately double barrelling is out because frankly put, some peoples pride, ego and memories are way to askewed for that. Also at the same time, by not changing my name I am putting myself in a situation where neither of my kids have the same surname as me or each other! (Quick call Jeremy Kyle I can feel I’m about to lose some teeth too!)
As I mentioned earlier as a 4/5 year old, you have spent your entire life defining who you are by your name. You learn it over and over and repeat it over and over again and maybe this is where I’ve been (we’ve all been) going wrong… Your name shouldn’t be who you are, its how kind you are , thoughtful, giving, open or funny. Maybe Rory has actually always had an incline towards this thought process; as a 2 year old through both tantrums and introducing himself to strangers he would shout “I’M RORY-THE-RACING-CAR-KERR!”. And therefore maybe me equating ‘Begner’ to being Rory’s mummy is all nonsense.
So all I can do right now is reassure my Indigo boy. Both me and his Gigi. That WE are family and that names actually don’t count. That when he is big enough he can be called whatever and whoever he wants but that he will always belong with me. That he is not his name but a sum of his amazing and beautiful characteristics. Such as a shouty racing car. Perfect…
I would love to know your thoughts…
-have you been a single mother and had a different name to your child?
-have you then changed your name to be the same as your husbands?
-have you decided not to for the sake of your childs feelings?
-are you a bad-ass feminist that couldn’t care less and will show your child just that (thats the inner me I reckon)?