Just last weekend my stepmother Paula noticed I added "Sandifer" to the end of my Facebook profile name. "You changed your last name?" she messaged me.
"Two years ago," I replied.
I've never been one to conform, to be too traditional, to back down or give up on anything I strongly believe in. Changing my last name was never really up for discussion "unless it is to Kennedy," I always joked with J.
Soon after Will was born, however, I had this hormonal wave that begged every cell in my body to want to embrace my new nuclear family unit as tightly as I could. While I was in the hospital celebrating this new life we created, the one thing that really bothered me was that the name on my wristband and my son's didn't match with my husband.
I've been lucky in that I have always loved the name Emilie Sommer (even if I do always have to spell both my first and last names). And it's not that I don't like J's last name, but when I hear that name his family comes to mind, not mine or our little family of three. It's really hard to suddenly let go of the only identity I've ever known! But I'm working on that (and to help, I did keep Sommer as a second middle name).
Evenmoreso, my parents were divorced when I was really young. I don't recall having a conversation about it as a family, but I remember figuring out what was happening when I was with my mother at the bank and she was changing her last name on her checks. The name change is an extra-weighty thing, you see.
I'll keep my name as Emilie Sommer professionally forever (there's a local photographer with the last name Sandifer already), but in my personal life as J's wife and Will's mom, I'm Emilie Sandifer and I'm slowly adjusting to being ok with that. My stomach doesn't completely knot up when I get mail addressed to Emilie Sandifer anymore, I've recently started saying "this is Emilie Sandifer" when calling to make doctors and other appointments, and yes, on New Years day I slipped a "Sandifer" on my Facebook profile for good measure (just a few close friends noticed and texted right away).
Some of you might think I'm crazy. Some of you might relate entirely. And that's ok. I have friends who couldn't wait to get married and changed their last names before they left for their honeymoons. And I have other friends who named their first born their maiden names because they felt so deeply about carrying on a bit of themselves. I'm fascinated by both and feel like names and naming is a college curriculum in itself.
And while you likely won't hear me turning around if someone is calling "Mrs. Sandifer" anytime soon, Paula, if you come to visit us in the hospital next month after we have our baby girl be sure to ask for Emilie Sandifer's room at the front desk.
The above was a photo I texted to J while practicing how to sign my new last name at the DMV, followed by some snarky yet truth-laden sentiment about how I felt like I was about to bungee jump or maybe just throw-up. LOL.
FYI, I used the service Miss Now Mrs to help streamline the name change process online and would definitely recommend it.