Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Names

One night not too long ago, I awoke in a panic. I had gotten a call from our lawyer earlier that day, letting me know that the court had "misplaced" my name change documents and we'd have to re-submit the paperwork. I've been meaning to change my last name for a long time, but with my due date drawing ever closer it's taken on a new sense of urgency.

I can't stand the thought of my babies having my father's last name, even if it turned out to be a temporary thing until we got paperwork straightened out. My father has been almost absent from my life, but pops up just enough to make things complicated. I was 5 when he got another woman pregnant with what turned out to be my half sister. My mother kicked him out of the house. He was supposed to see me and my brother on weekends, but would cancel frequently. Sometimes, he wouldn't even tell us he needed to cancel. My brother and I would wait like fools in the elementary school lobby for him to come pick us up, only to have the secretary shake her head and sigh and drive us home an hour later when he failed to show.

Over the years we saw him less and less. After I left for college at 18, the visits slowed to a pace of about one or two per year. Now I see him for a few hours a year sometime around my Christmas / New Years break at work. He spends most of those brief hours trying to make me feel guilty about how little I see him, even though he is the one who has always failed to return my calls and breaks plans at the last minute. It made me sad when I was a kid- I would get my hopes up that he would come through but wind up feeling rejected. As I got older, I recognized my father for the pathetic person he is. I stopped feeling like I needed a daddy, so his unreliability and disinterest in my life no longer hurts the way it did when I was in pigtails.

I was lucky, I have a wonderful mother and didn't need to rely on him. I think the one who was really hurt by his absence is my half sister Ella. Ella and her mother moved out of state when Ella was almost 4. When he did remember to pay child support for her it was next to nothing, even though he knew that her mother was financially and emotionally unstable. At 24, Ella is a culinary school dropout. She is unable to find work and has few adult life skills. This is mostly due to the fact that she had no role model to teach her how to be a responsible adult. She also suffers from depression, and has some of the worst luck of anyone I know. She has a tendency to drop off the face of the planet for weeks at a time. I found out yesterday from my brother that her most recent absence was due to illness. She had a severe staph infection which spread to her bones and cartilage and she's now wheelchair bound, living in a motel. My father knew of her condition, but did not once make time to visit her and didn't let anyone else in the family know she was sick. So for the past two days, I've been beyond angry with that man. There is no way he deserves to be honored as a grandfather, no way he deserves to have his name passed down.

My court date finally came through, and is set for next Friday. We always knew we wanted everyone in our family to have the same last name, and toyed with a lot of ideas before coming up with a solution that worked. We thought about hyphenating, but that would have meant a 6 syllable last name. Waaaay too much of a mouthful, especially since Elizabeth's last name is Polish and has more z's than vowels. We thought about combining part of her name with part of my name (i.e. banana + vanilla = banilla) but the results were laughable. We didn't want one of us to take the other's last name, because we were worried it would make one of us seem too dominant. In the end, we looked at as many different last names in our family trees as we could come up with, and decided on a favorite. So next Friday, we will both be using my grandfather's name as our last name. Hopefully the babies will stay put until then.

17 comments:

metalstork.com said...

congrats on finding a name you both like! a whole new name for both of you sounds so exciting! we are 5 syllables, hyphenated, and while red uses both all the time, i never got around to changing anything (plus, her family is bonkers).

AdventuresInBabyMaking said...

Ugh, sorry to hear about the situation w/ your dad. Hope your half sister is able to recover.

I’m glad you guys found a name you both like! And should the stinkers come early, you can give them any name you want, even a last name that doesn’t match yours (at least that’s what our attorney said. I assume that applies everywhere).

So is there any reason to think they may be coming anytime soon??

J and DZ said...

That is so exciting, choosing a new name!
Parts of your story really are so familiar. I have a relationship with my father but it's rocky and I'm not sure if he deserves my forgiveness. He used to pull the same crap when I was a kid. I remember being about 5 years old sitting in our kitchen waiting for my dad to buzz up to the apartment saying he was there to pick me up for my weekend. I'd call him over and over and he'd be nowhere to be found. He cancelled like that all the time. There was even a year he refused to see me as a punishment for my mom going after him for child support. What is it with deadbeat dads. They suck!

anofferingoflove said...

not wanting to pass down your father's name sounds totally understandable. the compromise you and elizabeth reached sounds perfect.

although its probably moot, because those babies WILL stay in through next friday, are you sure you would have to give them your surname? in my state, you can give your babe any surname you chose - my daughter's is different than mine and i had no problems whatsoever in the hospital doing that.

P said...

congrats on deciding on a name change you both like. I think this is a difficult decision sometimes. We have decided to keep both of last names with hypenation which is the best choice for us.
I think it is an honor for you guys to use your grandfathers name.
Happy to hear all is going well with the pregnancy.

mamaandmummy said...

I'm so glad you decided on a name! We're thinking I'll hyphenate and our kids will have C's name.

Sorry about your dad. It sounds like you're in a place where your know the issue is him and not you. Family discord and absent parents suck.

journeytowardsourbaby said...

I definitely get why you don't want to pass on your father's name, so I'm glad you've been able to agree on an alternative.

We are planning a hyphenation, but it does make it 5 syllables and our names both start with the same harsh sound so I've been putting off changing mine for the past couple of years. I will do it once bubs is finally on the way though lol

vee said...

Nice idea with the name. I hope it all gets sorted before the babies arrive!

Sorry your dad has failed you and your half-sister so miserably. I hope she recovers from this awful infection.

golyweg said...

Hey Me and mine had a 'hyperthetical' discussion about what we'd do with our names, and as our names sound stupid hyphonated either way, and neither would feel comfortable dropping, we had hours of fun with anagrams, and Golyweg was the best we could come up with!
Sorry about your dad - it's horrible, i know.

Melissa said...

Glad you have it all figured out. To ease some of the stress, in my state (Texas) you can put whatever name you want on the birth certificate. Our son has my wife's name and it's different from mine. We were told we could have put anything down as long as it wasn't numbers or symbols :)

Strawberry said...

Sounds like a wonderful decision you made, and here's to cutting that last tie to a painful relationship.

Pomegranate said...

Congratulations on finding a new last name and family identity.

Tam and I are socially hyphenated and will work on making that legal if we manage to conceive a child, I guess. I'm not sure I'm a fan of hyphenated names, but ours to sound good together. They add up to 5 syllables though which seems like a lot.

MrsSpock said...

I like your naming approach. I tried to convince my husband to chuck convention and pick a random but meaningful name for the both of us- but there was no way in Hades he would consider it. Taking his last name ended up being one of my compromises when we married, but I kept my birth name as my middle name.

motherwilling said...

Glad you came up with a great new name and I hope the name changes goes smoothly.

jessie said...

So glad you found a name!

And you should be able to give them any last name you want, by the way:)

rachelbk said...

I understand the name issue. I purposely picked names that were nowhere to be found in my family for my son, since no one was supportive of me having him as a single mom.
Those babies have a lot of 'baking' left to do, they're not coming out next week!!! I forbid it!

poppycat said...

I have a shitty dad too and although I'm sorry you have to deal with this, I totally understand where you are coming from. I'm happy to hear you are starting anew with a last name you are proud to pass to your children.

Wishing good things for your half sis.

Oh, and how are the babies doing?