Legally, that is. Professionally, I still use my maiden name.
It wasn't an easy choice. In fact, 13 years later, I'm still almost as conflicted as many women are before they make the choice. My own friends have found all sorts of solutions. Many kept their maiden names as their legal names. And for the most part, they never looked back. One though, bucked the trend by adding on her husband's surname.
A Canadian acquaintance stood by as her government automatically changed her last name to her husband's when they were married in the 1980s, but then took the trouble to change it back, without divorce, 11 years later. Others legally took their husband's names, but continued to go by their maiden noms, either as middle names or surnames, for professional reasons. "My stage name," one friend jokes.
One male friend shuffled his last name to the middle and took on his wife's surname. I decided to drop my maiden surname, legally at least, because I believed that keeping it would peel back only one generation of women surrendering their names to men. My mother, after all, had taken my father's name.
Instead, when we married, I took my husband's name while also adding the first name of a female ancestor, Indiana, into the middle of both my professional and legal names. I knew little about her except that she was a self-published poet and one of the founding inhabitants of Cambria, Calif. As a salute to my family, my husband added her name as a middle name too.
It's worked fairly well, and I like sharing my children's last name. The only problem is, I now have two identities. This is great for separating my work life from my family life, but not much else.
Here's how it looks: Professionally, I use my middle name and my maiden surname. For traveling, paying bills and being my kids' mother, I use my married name. For paying taxes, I use both. And because I receive checks made out to my work name, I've added it to my personal checking account. Yes, it makes me dizzy too.
Now comes the fun part: My e-mail signature is my professional name. Since it seems Sybilesque to use a separate e-mail account with my married name for personal correspondence, and because I do a lot of e-mailing for work, it all goes out under my work name. After much back-and-forth, I decided to use my maiden name for my Facebook account too. Now that technology has pushed my work name into my private life, my legal name has become almost an alias, something for dodging telemarketers and keeping my family's life private.
As my maiden name continues to take over, I find myself wondering, lo these many years later, if it might have made more sense to pick just one name and stick with it. As it is, when I'm asked to supply my name, I often do a double take. Which one does the school secretary know me by? And what do you mean you can't find my turkey order?
In other words, if you're headed down this path, I have no wisdom, aside from experience, to offer. If you crave simplicity, though, one identity is probably enough.
Courtesy- Joan Indiana Rigdon (Forbes Woman)
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