It’s funny how the most unremarkably pleasant days can suddenly swerve into something kind of concrete and momentous (or as “concrete and momentous” as anything that happens in this mortal coil). We were just pulling into the coffee stand today when my daughter repeated her desire to legally change her name.
This isn’t the first time she’s told me she wanted to change her name to this particular choice. When we talked about it last I told her it involved a bit of trouble: mostly paperwork and assisting friends and family in remembering your new name (which means friendly and persistent repetition). I don’t have the kind of disdainful judgment the name-change can sometimes invoke in some people* as I’ve had one of my closest friends change her name and my own sister has changed her names many times; I’ve personally seen how lives continue on much as before; and I’m all about people self-validating. I was also very impressed with my daughter’s choice as it is a very powerful name and one that suits her well.
Still, there is something kind of scary about the whole business. Names do mean something – otherwise people wouldn’t agonize over these choices; otherwise you wouldn’t hear anyone mock certain names (especially names in certain groups/types/ethnicities). I won’t deny I felt an odd fear at having to call my daughter something else than the name I’d known her by – her entire life, which felt like a big part of my life too. Still, I can tell she’s serious about it. She called both her father and my mother and told them; they were enthusiastic and supportive. She has some awesome grownups in her life.
I know I have to get some kind of court order to change a name in my family. I know I’m going to have to call doctors and the YMCA and a few organizations blah, blah. I know I’m going to stop calling her “Soph” as I have done for years. But even today in the grocery store when I called her by her new name she immediately snapped up and came to me. She has been calm and happy in this way I recognize when she’s made a choice that really, really works for her.
* Although of course, the people who sneer at name-changes often have no trouble with married women taking their husband’s surname.
** You can email her at phoenix.fire AT hogaboom DOT org to congratulate her – I know she’d love it!