A rose by any other name ….

The issue regarding retaining my surname on the 17 July 2010, or taking Kennith’s surname was a weighty decision for me.

I have been me for about thirty eight years and had grown rather fond of my surname and it was part of who I was – it was an element of my personality.

If I was going to change anything it would be my first name.

I always thought it was terribly cruel to give a little girl with a lisp a name with two “s” sounds in it.  So when ever I say my name, I usually get the response of “what?”  and then have to repeat it two or three times more.  Getting more nervous and thus lisping even more.

I realize it is just a surname, and many women are more than happy to toss it aside on their wedding day and leap into the arms of a “Koekemoer” or “Jansen van Rensburg” or even a “van der Kok.”

But I was not so sure.

Kennith’s surname is great, and rolls of the tongue, so it was not a surname that has spelling or pronunciation problems going forward.  It’s easy and tends to get you in the front of the queue if anything is in alphabetical order, which always has it’s perks, unless it is for an anal exam of sorts.

My surname would usually have a response of “Like the Highlander?” or “There can be only one..” to which we all smile and nod knowingly.

The children have Kennith’s surname and my surname as a third name.  All three kids have rather lengthy monikers, which makes filling in forms lots of fun, but each of their names was well thought through and well selected.

Part of my decision when it came to deciding to take on Kennith’s surname, was that I wanted to be like my children, I wanted my name to be the same as theirs.

<we can discuss naming kids by the father’s name when you are unmarried in a separate blog post, as that has all sorts of issues attached to it.>

The other day Georgia was asking about all our “big” names and I was running through what hers was, and Isabelle’s and Connor’s.  Then the question was posed as to what Kennith’s “big” name was.  And finally what mine was.

On hearing my name, she promptly said “You are not part of the family!”

I am convinced that Georgia has been sent to test my resolve.  Besides the many references to me as her “big fat mommy” and now her telling me I am “not in the family” I do still try to buy her presents at Xmas time, and not send her to school dressed funny.  But I must warn you she is really testing the boundaries with me.

Anyway, back to my surname decision.

I have been me for thirty eight years, I actually quite like me, some days more than others, but as time goes on, I am starting to like me a bit more.

Getting married was not about me becoming another person, it was about me getting married to Kennith, but part of the “getting married” thing for girls is there is an automatic assumption that we will take our groom’s name.

And the fact that is is always this automatic shift that we are happy to abandon our family names and take on theirs also did not sit well with me.

Kennith did keep asking if I was going to take on his surname.  He was also good enough to not make it an issue.  He seemed to respect the fact that my name is also important to me, and there was a good chance that I would hold on to it after the 17th.

I decided I would leave the final decision until the day – and even on the morning while getting ready I took some time to consider what would be best for me, and what I would feel most comfortable with going forward.

I chose to change my name.

I moved my surname to a third name, and took Kennith’s surname as my new surname.

Next time when Georgia asks our “big” name, and we all list our names, I wonder if Georgia will admonish Kennith for “not being in the family” unless he opts for a name change and take my surname as his third name.

Photo by Mandi Earl.

Leave a comment


  1. Hilary

     /  July 27, 2010

    For me changing my surname was actually more of a big deal than I thought it would be. I had no idea I would be as emotional about it but it was in the end.It felt like I seperating from a part of me. My maiden surname was unusual (and always needed spelling) and with my married surname its the same thing. My main reason was also that I wanted the same surname as my kids – we got married when I was 6 1/2 months pregnant and I knew I wanted my child to have his dad’s surname. I’m not a fan of the double barrel surname,especially if its an 8 letter surname hyphendated with another 8 letter – did I mention my first name is also hyphenated? Nee wat – would’ve been way too long 🙂

  2. reluctantmom

     /  July 26, 2010

    Deciding on changing my surname was a huge decision – I really loved my surname, but decided that it was more important to have the same name as my children.

    Of course there was the option of a double-barrel, but then it would not solve the problem as my name would still differ.

    So for now, so far, so good – however I have not really used my “new surname” – so let me comment on that in three or four months, or after I get my new ID which I believe from Home Affairs will take between 6 – 9 months.

    Won’t start changing anything until I have ID documents back from HA.

  3. I still cling to my surname and I don’t think I will ever change it.

    I’m sure Georgia will now be happy, and now daddy will be her next target.

  4. Mine was an easy decision, my maiden name was boring and there are a gazillion people with the same surname. He passed away about 9 years ago and now I’m finally engaged again. Now I’m not so sure about changing it cos my son has my surname and I don’t want him to be the odd one out.

  5. I had wondered how you pronounce your surname and now I know! I have heard that it is quite tough to actually keep your maiden name. Loads of bureaucracy. Home affairs automatically change your name to your husbands. Not sure if that’s true. So archaic.

    I hated my maiden name so changing to my hubby’s was an easy decision. But now I’m related to half of Cape Town!

  6. This was also an issue for me – mainly for professional and practice registration issues. At the end I also changed it. It’s just simpler.


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