I May Have to Rethink My Entire Life

Have you ever seen the movie “Something to Talk About” with Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid? It’s set in the South, and one part of the movie has always stuck out of me.  (But apparently it didn’t stick out for the thousands of YouTubers out there as I couldn’t find a clip, but I found this one, and it pretty much sums up the entire movie!)

The scene: a group of Southern Ladies are sitting in a room having their Junior League meeting and discussing the annual cookbook fundraiser.

  • (Junior League President) On to the business of our centennial cookbook.  Wee want it to be our best… so I’ll ask our committee chairman to bring us up to date.
  • (Committee chairwoman) Deadline for recipe submissions is the second.  Think about substituting vegetable shortening wherever it says lard.  I say this because Nell McGee’s husband is recovering from heart surgery.  Lucy’s going to take over for me until after the Grand Prix.  That’s it.
  • (Committee member)-Names
  • (another committee member)-Right
  • (Committee chairwoman) The committee thinks that… Well, we’ve looked at a lot of other cookbooks.  We’ve always been listed with our married names under the recipes.  Frankly, the practice of excluding our first names looks outdated.  So, I think we should list our names: First, middle and last.  That’s all.
  • (Edna) I’ve always thought the way it was looked quaint.
  • (Edna’s friend) It doesn’t look quaint Edna, it looks antiquated.
  • (Edna’s other friend) What about tradition? If my name isn’t there as Mrs. Frankin J. Caldwell III… then how the hell is anybody gonna know who I am? Barbaranelle Caldwell, who’s that?

It cracked me up, because there are some traditions that took longer to break, down here in the South, than others.  Even my mom mentioned the other day that when she was first married, she signed Mrs. John Doe, instead of Mrs. Jane Doe.  So even in my life time, it was not uncommon for that practice!

I always assumed when I got married, I would take my husbands name, it’s just what is done.

Then life happened.

I became a single mother and enrolled my kid in school.  And realized that life was so much easier having the same last name.  And I have worked very hard for my last name.  I’ve been in the same industry for almost 20 years, everyone knows me by my last name.  There is no way I want to change that – nor have a different last name than my son.

I mentioned at a lunch meeting the other day, that should I get married, at this point, I’d keep my last name.  I’d consider the hyphen, but that would just be to compromise.  I’d want to keep my name professionally.

Imagine my surprise when he immediately said “I couldn’t marry someone that wouldn’t take my name.”

The reaction I get when I say I won't change my name after marriage | Did That Just Happen Blog

Really?  Like for real?

Huh.

That was interesting, and he is a younger guy, a new generation, I assumed he would be more progressive than that.

Which led me to a conversation with a good friend, and we were discussing marriage, as he’s in a committed relationship, but isn’t looking to get married – but his girlfriend is! I brought up my lunch conversation from a few days prior, and darned if he didn’t immediately have the same reaction!

He could totally see why I’d keep my last name on the professional side.  And he understood wanting to save the hassle and having the same last name as Mr. T.  But he, too, couldn’t marry someone who wouldn’t take his name.

So, I brought up the hyphen.

To which a visceral response happened! He said that he didn’t know why, and he couldn’t control it, but the moment he saw a woman with a hyphenated last name, his first thought was “b$t@#”.

How do you react when a woman doesn't change her last name when getting married? |Did That Just Happen Blog

He couldn’t explain it, it was just his automatic response.

So, I asked, but then would you be willing to adopt Mr. T? Because that has to be a valid reason, and he said “Of course, in a heart beat a kid like him I’d adopt.”

Okay, so that’s totally where I expected the hurdle to be, but adoption was a non-issue.

The not-changing-my-name, however, was a deal breaker.

Now, before you shake your head and think I’ve lost my mind, I recognize that some of my issues are really non-issues at this point.  Mr. T is older, and so having the same last name for school and medical reasons doesn’t really apply anymore, but when he was younger, it was pretty legitimate!

I just love those moments when you get an insight into the other side of a thought! I had been so sure of my path until those two conversations – and now, well now I get to rethink!

On SCOTUS and Single Parents

I have mentioned several times over the past year how I’ve become aware of how we bring our own assumptions to the table.  We see things as colored from our lives and not always how they really are.  I’ve shared that this happened to me, someone close to me made an assumption that was very real and valid in their reality; however, it wasn’t what was really happening, and it was a big eye opener for me.  I’ve worked very hard to leave my assumptions behind and see things as they are today, to see people as they are today.  Not as they were when I met them, or last year, or last week, or even yesterday.  Part of my journey to live in the Now has really focused on this.

Allow me to reintroduce myself did that just happen blog

Apparently some days are better/easier than others.  And that’s okay, it helps me learn and grow, but man, those off days…

I stole the title of this blog post from Deborah at The Monster in my Closet for several reasons.  First off, it’s a kick butt title, secondly, it totally applies and third, you MUST go read her blog post by the same title.  

I have massive respect for The Monster in my Closet, she has a wonderful life story, and while we are on different paths, it has been fun to read about her journey.  One of my favorite parts is that she welcomes discussion.  I watch her communicate with others and I really enjoy seeing the different view points and perspectives that show up on her blog!

She posted something a few days ago, on a different media outlet, that immediately sent me over the edge.

And not in a good way.

When the Supreme Court handed down their decision on gay marriage, The Monster in my Closet read it.  Not skimmed it, not read what others posted, but read the actual words set forth by SCOTUS (Mad props for that!) and in that ruling, she found a beautiful paragraph that addressed the children of gay couples, and how SCOTUS took them into consideration.

And, it was beautiful, I found it awesome that the children were addressed; however, there was some verbiage included that pretty much had me reverting to an older version of myself, getting defensive and well, with hands shaking and stomach quivering, I shot off a response.   I was upfront and told her that I recognized I was taking this single paragraph out of context – and I was, but it sure didn’t stop me!

Excluding same-sex couple from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry.  Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.  They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life.

Stigma? Somehow lesser? Material costs of being raised by unmarried parents???

whaaaat? And how SCOTUS decision didn't change my family | Did That Just Happen Blog

I was okay until they threw in “unmarried parents” and then all of the sudden, the ruling became personal.  I have worked so very hard to make sure my son doesn’t feel a “stigma” because he comes from a “lesser” family because he is being raised by an “unmarried” parent.

That was a shot to my heart.  How could I NOT read that as an affront to all I have worked for for 16 years?

No stigma for single parents | Did That Just Happen Blog

There is no stigma there, unconventional, yes.  But a lesser family?!? Them are fightin’ words!! 

Again, in one part of my brain, I recognized I was taking it out of context, but apparently we have found the issue that is still, well, an issue for me! Deborah and I exchanged several emails as we discussed this – not mean or nasty, but genuine emails with a real discussion.  And here is the best part.

While I knew in part of my brain that it was okay, I just couldn’t get the rest of me there.  I was fixated on those words.

Stigma

Lesser

Then Deborah sent me a link to an article posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics site.  And I cried.

AAP has supported families in all their diversity, because the family has always been the basic social unit in which children develop the supporting and nurturing relationships with adults that they need to thrive. Children may be born to, adopted by, or cared for temporarily by married couples, nonmarried couples, single parents, grandparents, or legal guardians, and any of these may be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or of another orientation. Children need secure and enduring relationships with committed and nurturing adults to enhance their life experiences for optimal social-emotional and cognitive development. Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders.

The rest of me finally caught up.  It’s okay.  I’m okay.  My family is whole.

This is my family, I found it, all on my own.  Is little and broken, but still good.  Yeah, still good.  Did That Just Happen Blog