I shared this photo earlier this week on my Facebook, which you can find here, with the caption that at the end said: “Dr. and still Thomas.” Very much so implying that I intend on keeping my last name after I am married. Several people either asked me in person or over messenger about this to clear up what I meant. Many thought that I meant I wouldn’t be married yet. I told them all while there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be married when I was 29, I more so meant that I planned on not changing my name when I married.
People were blown away and horrified. I was left thoroughly confused. They said things like, “That’s very untraditional.”, “What about how your husband feels about that?”, “What if he doesn’t want to marry you if you don’t change your name?”, and “Then you won’t have the same last name as your kids, won’t you feel weird?”
Understand that I am a very traditional person when it comes to my image of marriage (for myself). I want the husband who adores me, starts my car on cold mornings, buys me flowers just because, and fixes things that are broken. I want a house full of kids. I want to be the mom that is at everything, bakes things, and always plans the parties. I want my house full of people and love. I want to pack lunches and cook dinner. I want big family meals with the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even the random people that we want to invite into our homes. I want date nights and family game nights. I want dogs and a big backyard. I want to be the wife my husband has always hoped for. But I do not want his last name.
Since I was very young, it has led up to this. I would say my name and love the way it flowed. I would try it out with whatever crush’s name that I could come up with. Nothing sounded right. I ventured outside of the boys I liked trying to see if a style or something sounded right. Nothing did. Confused, thinking my name was broken, I would google lists of last names and try them all. BRandy Allen, BRandy Johnson, BRandy Smith, BRandy Williams… nothing. I was BRandy Thomas.
My name means so much to me. I don’t know many people closer to their family than I am, specifically the side that “Thomas” ties me too. My superheros are men who hold this last name. The women who mean so much to me held it as well, by marriage or by birth, at least at some point. It is my roots. It is my origin. It is something I hold dearly to me. It was the first name I learned to write. Every single thing I have done since birth: every award I’ve won, every paper I’ve written, every failure I’ve had, my entire story has been written under a name I love. A name that I feel like fits me. A name that belongs to an identity I fought to create. Why am I expected to so freely give it up?
Actually, I can tell you why. In ye olden days, women were basically property. She belonged to her dad’s household and then she belonged to her husband’s household. The changing of the name was to signify the change of possession. Then, we upgraded to nicer words that when a husband and wife got married they were joining together as one person and therefore took on one name- during these times women got married and became nothing more than “wife of _____”. Sure, we’ve moved on to it’s just the way things are done, but why are we doing things just to do them? Why do some 50% of people think it should be illegal for a wife to not change her last name? That I can’t answer for you. So yes, it’s very untraditional, but to be honest, as a woman determined to raise strong men and women, it’s not one I’m worried about upholding.
Let’s talk about the next thing that I found absurd in their questions. How will my husband feel? What if he doesn’t want to marry me? I understand that because of how highly the tradition is upheld, he probably will have some problem with it at first. That’s okay. But getting into it, he knew I was a strong, independant woman. He knew I was a stubborn girl tied to my roots. Once he gets past his ego, I don’t think he’ll have that big an issue with it. It’s a name. If a name keeps you from loving me, you probably didn’t really love me or want to spend forever with me in the first place. Quite frankly, I don’t know much for sure about my future husband yet, but I can assure you that if the fact that I don’t plan on changing my last name makes him not want to marry me- he isn’t the kind of man I wanted to marry in the first place.
The final, weak, argument people tried to give me was something about not being connected to my kids. I know lots of moms. I know lots of moms who share last names with their kids and don’t know the first thing about them. I know moms who spend a lot of time posting on Facebook about their wonderful relationship with the kid who shares their last name and don’t know how much that child is hurting or what they are passionate about. I also know some wonderful moms who don’t share a last name- some don’t even share the same blood- and have the closest relationships you can imagine. My last name won’t make me a good or bad mom to my child, even my having my child won’t. I will have to work every single day to be a good momma, and I plan on it, but it won’t be defined by if we have the same last initial.
So, thank you for your concern, but I have thought these issues out. I assure you that I am going to be a wonderful wife and mom and it won’t have a single thing to do with my last name.