Why I Kept My Last Name
What’s in a name?
A lot, actually.
During the holidays, we all probably had to answer more and more unwarranted questions about the details of our lives. "Do you have a boyfriend," for our single friends might be a common one. Then there's the all dread "So, what are you doing with your life?" or "Do you regret that arts degree yet?" Siiiiiiigh.
We all know how it goes, our extended relatives, high school friends and everyone in between want to catch up all of a sudden. I think it's just because we all will go crazy if we have to talk about whether or not "Love Actually" is a good movie one more time while chugging red wine and while pretending we want to hear about our Great Uncle's back problems. Really, what else is there to do when you're back home for the holidays? We get a lil nosy.
Inevitably, I have already been asked multiple times, "What's the deal with your name?" Well the deal is that I added Jerome's last name onto mine. It's pretty simple, and not that uncommon anymore. My legal name is Olivia Grace Ross Alexander. Note that there's no hyphen. I'm free to use my names interchangeably, they are just one long word of a last name. Instead of having the whole hyphen thing going on, I just have to sign both last names on legal documents. For work I remain Olivia Ross, to my theoretical and far-off children’s' friends, I will be Mrs. Alexander.
So, why did I do this? Well again, the answer is pretty simple. I like both names.
I wanted to keep the Ross because my brother is no longer around to carry on the family name. Yes, I have male cousins with this last name but it was important to me that the line for my parents is continued on with the Ross legacy. A legacy I'm quite proud of, formed by people who worked very hard to get me to where I am today. It honors my grandpa, who we called Granpop, who paved the way for my education. The name "Ross" is who I am. It's a direct link to where I came from and who brought to where I am today on their backs and in their genes. I'm not just going to let go of that. My middle name is Grace, and a family name on my mother’s side. It honors the strong women before I am proud to bear it as well.
It seemed really hard to imagine having a new name when I was deciding before we got married who I wanted to be known as. It felt like to change my name entirely would be to to change my identity as a whole. Our names are who we are in so many ways and I wasn't ready to give up the Ross. It's just… me.
On the other hand, I don't like the ownership that taking a man's name connotes. It's antiquated. It's certainly not something I agree with. That being said, everyone has a choice to take whatever name they want or to keep whatever name they want, regardless of orientation or identification. I am not alone though, just 3 years ago the New York Times reported that 20 percent of married women kept their maiden names. That’s an increase compared to past years, and the rate is rising. I'm not judging those who don't - the traditional way just wasn't for me. But I do like the idea of merging together as one once married, so I did add Jerome's last name on. I can see why people take their spouses name, it's definitely an act of love. I also felt like I couldn't do that and leave my past behind me - The Ross name is everything that led me to this point, it's who I am which is why Jerome loves me. Leaving it behind felt like it would be dishonorable. Keeping my last name after marriage just felt right.
So I made the decision to add on. Yes, it's long. My credit cards and driver's license look a little funny. But my marriage is an addition to my life, to extend the reach of my love and legacy as an individual, but now as a couple with someone I love. It's beautiful. I think my new name truly represents my past so well, my brother's legacy and my life moving forward as a wife and woman. It's... me.
P.S. Anyone interested in hearing about the name changing process? If so, leave me a comment and you just may see a post about how-to soon!