I got married pretty young. I was a bright eyed 22 year old with the world ahead of her. When I was younger, the culmination of a girl’s life was supposed to be that moment when she walked down the aisle and said, “I do.” I could never understand it. In fact many of my Nigerian colleagues would begin to panic at the age of 25 if they didn’t have a fiancé lurking nearby. I always knew I was expected to get married quickly, but even my parents did not see it coming when their baby girl got married at 22. I guess I jumped the gun. I often would fantasize about my wedding day. In fact, I went out and tried on wedding dresses way before I saw a noble man in sight. It’s not that I was obsessed with the idea of marriage, I guess I was obsessed with the intricate details surrounding a wedding. I love love. And I love weddings more. I’m mushy and squishy on the inside. I once cried at the wedding of a total stranger- yes I know that’s weird- but the sight of two lovebirds willingly choosing to commit to one another for life just makes me lose it every time.
So imagine my shock when after my wedding, people started addressing me as Mrs. XYZ!! What!!?!!?!!?? All my life I’ve gone by a certain last name. I pride myself to be of my bloodline. I’m happy to be my father’s daughter. It’s not like we’re royalty or extra special, but my last name is who I am. I have written my last name on the page of my nursery school books. I signed my last name when I opened my very first bank account at the age of 17, and it was that last name that appeared on all my college transcripts. So now I had to dump my identity? I had to drop who I am and create a new foreign being? That hit me like stinky skunk gas on a sunny day. Why do I have to change my name? Is it that serious? If I didn’t take on my husband’s last name would that mean I loved him less? I tell you, it was rough.
I also was nervous to keep my maiden name for I come from traditional stock. I did not want my family asking me 65 million questions about why I decided to keep my maiden name, so I had the perfect compromise- A COMPOUND NAME! God bless whomever created that. I got to keep a part of me and take on a part of my new hubby. God bless hyphens in general. Although my name is now awkwardly long and impossible to pronounce, it feels and sounds just right to me. I mean I feel sorry for all the folks who attempt to pronounce my full name- 3 seriously African names in a row- (each one longer and more complex than the other might I add).
So my dear friends, why was it so hard for me to shed my maiden name? I’ve now been married for 5 years, and I am now reaching a point where if you call me “Mrs. XYZ,” I will not look at you like you’re crazy and it will click in my brain that you’re talking to me. I will actually turn around and reply. Why are names so hard to shed? If I have to give up my entire identity for my husband, what part of his identity does he have to give up? Am I crazy or does some woman out there feel my confusion? I love my husband. In fact, I’m probably borderline obsessed with the dude, but it was incredibly difficult to drop my name after 22 years of wearing it proudly.
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Confused Thinking Momma