What's in a name: why I have a double-barreled last name.
You may have noticed that I have a double-barreled last name.
And yes, it did come about because my husband and I put our last names together. He’s the Brady, I’m the Walker.
We married young, we were both still at University studying Chiropractic and at the time, I was convinced that my life’s greatest achievement would be becoming Doctor Walker. So I didn’t change my name. And my last name stayed as Walker for 4 whole years. It was never an issue for us until our first daughter was born.
The whole time I was pregnant with her, I was ok with the fact that she would have my husband’s last name and I would keep my own. I thought my husband felt the same. But when we saw our beautiful girl, everything changed.
It was my husband who first suggested it.
We made a person, we created a new family.
Half me, half him, an equal partnership.
And like any good business merger, we needed a new name to reflect this.
We became The Brady-Walkers.
That’s right we both changed our names and bestowed our new last name on our 2 beautiful girls too.
This was excellent in that fact that as a man, he got to experience the utter crap red tape bureaucratic round about that changing your last after marriage is for us ladies, but there was more to it than that.
For starters, the tradition of a woman taking a man’s name after marriage is rooted deep in British history as far back as the 14th century, where after marriage a woman became a mans property and so had no need for her own name, first or last. And really, without the rights to vote, own property or have anything of her own outside of the family, what use would her own name and sense of identity separate to her husbands be anyway?
Shockingly it wasn’t until the 1920’s when things started to change (something else to be thankful to the 20’s for other than jazz and flapper dresses) and women in the UK and the USA were able to retain rights to hold passports, voter rights, bank accounts and real estate deeds in their maiden names.
But even today, over 90% of married women choose to take their husbands last name.
Most say tradition. Others say that it is the flack they cop for having a different last name from their husband and children, as if they are not as “committed” as others who choose to relinquish their names.
And I get that. The amount of times I have heard “but what if your girl’s marry someone with a double-barreled last name, what? Are they going top have a quadruple-barrel last name?”
To which I answer, I don’t freaking care what my daughters choose to do with their names if and when they choose to get married. What I care is that they do what feels right to them. What I care about is that we demonstrated to them that what ever they choose to do with their names does not change who they are.
Because what is in a name?
A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.
And our names are not who we are. It may feel like your identity is caught up in the jumble of X’s and Y’s, But it isn’t. There is so much more to you than a name.
For us, taking each other’s names, both become Dr Brady-Walker, was the right move. I never knew how amazingly complete I would feel by having the same name as my family. My new family. And everyday I am thankful for the amazing man who stands beside me with my name and his. A new name. Our own name.
Brady-Walker, which in medical-speak means slow walker, but I’m ok with th