My Maiden Name
I smiled at the delivery person who brought me my new business cards. Then I glanced down at them and my smile melted. My maiden name, which I had spelled out proudly in between my first name and my husband’s last name ever since I had been married, had been reduced to an initial with a dot next to it.
An initial! As if my maiden name were just a throw-away middle name like Ann (A.) or Lyn (L.) or even one of those ugly names designed to be hidden: the kind placed there in honor of some relative with a wonderful character but a really hideous moniker. (I won’t list these.)
I never abbreviate my maiden name. In fact, my husband notes with mild derision that I tend to sign my name by writing out my first and maiden names and then carelessly abbreviating the last name he gave me.
I couldn’t give up my maiden name when I married. It’s not that my maiden name represents a noble and glorious ancestral heritage—at least, I don’t think it does. I could never make myself get excited about genealogy.
However, it does represent an integral part of me that I can’t give up. It is the name of my childhood. It is the name printed on the diplomas I worked so hard to earn. When I was a Mormon missionary, my first name temporarily disappeared completely, replaced by the title Hermana. My maiden name was my only identifier.
Some of my friends did not change their names when they married. I have nothing against that choice but I thought it would be logistically easier if I had the same last name as my husband and future children. Besides, I had no middle name and my maiden name is only one wee syllable. Even with two last names, my name is reasonably short—definitely short enough to make initializing unwarranted.
I scowled at the business cards. I believe in choosing my battles. Was this battle worth fighting? Did I care enough about my maiden name to pick a fight about business cards, when there are always so many other workplace issues needing attention?
That stupid initial frowned back at me. I put on my virtual battle gear with my full name figuratively embossed across the back, including, of course, my unabbreviated maiden name, and prepared for a chat with my supervisor about why I needed to reorder those cards.