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Last Names First

Ugh. The last-name conversation. Do we have to talk about it? Ah, but it's so fascinating, isn't it? It's such a total conundrum! Which is so frustrating! And also kind of a relief because no one gets to have their cake and eat it, too. Nobody gets to be like, "BAM! I have the solution."

The surname conversation has come up several times as of late. It came when I was sent this link to a Manrepeller piece about men taking their wives' names, which then led to THIS piece featuring 15 men reacting to the idea that a man might take his wife's last name, which—in these guys' defense, I wouldn't want my husband to take my name. For the same reason I didn't want to take his. It makes me feel uncomfortable to trade my name for another. And it would make me feel uncomfortable for him to do the same.

That said, some of these dudes are THE WORST. No offense, but, like, ASSHOLES.

I talked to Hal about this (for the 78979872318971927th time) yesterday, when I mentioned I was writing another post about the marriage + babies + last-name conundrum.

His response. "AGAIN!? Look, we can change the kids' last names if it matters that much to you. WE CAN CALL THEM ALL WOOLF IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT."

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But it isn't what I want. I mean, it IS ... kind of. (I actually just want to change the GIRLS' last names to Woolf because it feels fair to me that the girls get my name and the boy gets Hal's name, especially because his name is ISAAC/SON AKA Manboyofman. Also, Woolf is the most badass name ever. If my last name was Poopbucketstinkernuts I would GLADLY take Isaacson as my own.

Or maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I would be like, "FUCK THAT. I've made it thus far with a name like Poopbucketstinkernuts and I'm going to keep on keeping on!"

My point is, I am still totally hung up over last names in a way that keeps me up at night more than anything else. Is that insane? Maybe. But I feel like I failed by not having enough of an opinion when Fable was born and I want to make sure all you ladies out there listening tonight don't make the same mistake I made which is defaulting to THEY GET HIS NAME, OF COURSE, BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN.

And while Hal is totally right that it wouldn't take that much to change the girls' last names, (especially the twins), Fable and Archer are very set in their names and I don't want to mess with that. And I also don't want Archer to feel like he has a different name from his sisters. Plus, I am very well aware of how insane I sound right now about all of this. And now I'm right back where I started.

Here's the thing, though: Names are a huge deal to me. I believe they carry far more power than we have the capacity to recognize and I believe they have a profound affect on the people they end up with. And maybe I am an anomaly, which is why this subject keeps finding me and why I can't give it up even though, for a minute in 2013, I kind of sort of let it go. Two years later and here I am: back to pacing the halls in my night cap.

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And, by the way, my feelings on last names have NO BEARING on my feelings about other people who choose to take their spouse's last name(s). This is purely MY Larry Davidesque hangup when it comes to ME and Hal and my kids. I have all the respect for every kind of name arrangement and do not think a woman is any less feminist if she takes her husband's last name. I just want to make sure that is clear.

Still, I think this is a question that is facing a lot of young families and I would love to hear from those who are in the midst of trying to decide who is taking who's name and why, whether it be marriage or parenthood. I would also love to hear from those who are similarly hung up on all this name taking/keeping business.

Some questions:

1. Do you regret your decision to take your spouse's last name?

2. Do you regret that your children have your spouse's last name and not yours?

3. Do you think it's strange for siblings to have different last names?

4. Do you think last names are totally arbitrary and I'm an insane person to have been overthinking this for the last eight years?

5. What are your thoughts of men taking their wives' last names?

6. How do you feel about hyphenates?


A Woolf Amongst Isaacsons

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