The Road To The Altar: I Would Love To Keep My Maiden Name, But I Don’t Want Drama
Two Sundays ago, I was on the New Jersey Transit, making a 78-minute trip back to NYC after visiting my mother, in town for the week, as well as my sister and her family in Parsippany. While there, my mom, a fellow magazine lover, swiped my latest issue of InStyle. She left me with no real form of entertainment for my long ride home. So I decided to pull out a slim notepad I had been using for wedding planning and doodle as opposed to incurring high data charges on my phone.
I did what I used to do in school when I was bored: write my name in a variation of fonts, including the classic cursive. I eventually decided to try and write my fiancé’s name in full. And then, I wrote down what my married name would be. (I would share that with you but, unlike me, my fiancé doesn’t like all his business out there–but I’ll share his name after I say “I do.”) It looked kind of cute. But I didn’t have the warm fuzzies I assumed I would, despite merging our names in conversation when people would ask, “So what would your new name be?” As I wrote my own name again, Victoria Gail Uwumarogie, I got a little sad.
It’s not because I’m not excited to be the future Mrs. ___. But rather, it’s because my maiden name has always meant a lot to me.
Try being a kindergartner in a class full of Johnsons, Taylors, Sherrods and Jacksons when you’re an Uwumarogie. I can neither confirm nor deny if I actually even knew how to spell my last name at 5, but I did know how to pronounce it: Oo-woo-mah-row-gee.
Thankfully, I never felt embarrassed by my name because I was the last-born child, and my other three siblings with the same last name had sauntered their way through every institution I had to learn in (aside from college) before me. They all had great talents that helped them stand out in their graduating classes, and they were all popular. My older sister was quite outgoing and smart, and had been picked as Student of the Year as a freshman. My brother was a ranked athlete and class clown. My other sister was literally a genius. She obtained a 32 on her ACT.
By the time I got there, being an Uwumarogie was like a badge of honor: “You’re ___’s sister?!” Still, I charted my own path. I was a good blend of all three of my siblings: outgoing, smart (oooh child, but not at math), and great at sports (specifically basketball and volleyball). And I had a lot to do and prove, which I did before I left my elementary and high school. I was the last in the line.
And even as an adult, my name has been something that gets people’s attention, whether it’s nosey telemarketers or people at a party who butcher it:
Me: “It’s Oo-woo-mah-row-gee.”
It’s something I’m proud of. An Edo name that actually comes from the first name of my late grandfather and has meaning (According to a relative, it’s “Everyone dies, even kings.” Morbid, right?). A name that, despite the moments of silence it received during roll call in school, was something I loved to hear variations of (“What’s up Uwu?!”). Something that even other people enjoyed, as I’ve had a few people say they wish they had such an “interesting” last name.
And that’s why I’m somewhat sad to let it go.
That, and the fact that because my brother passed and didn’t have a son, there is no male in my immediate family to pass it on.
I could keep the name. More and more women are doing it. But according to a survey done by Men’s Health, 63.3 percent of their male readers said they would be hurt if their wife didn’t take their last name. And not only would my fiancé be hurt, but he would also be angry. Nigerian folks just don’t do that. If you marry someone, you take their name. Either that, or you run the risk of going into a marriage with a boatload of resentment and drama. While I think my name is awesome, I don’t want to say it’s worth the discord it could create to keep it.
So where does that leave me? Well, I plan to keep my professional name as Victoria Uwumarogie. The footprints I have online and in print were created way before I met him, and I don’t want to create any confusion by trying to switch it up all these years later.
But everything else will change to my married name.
I’m happy to get married to the great love of my life. And I’m lucky to have a future husband whose last name isn’t something abrasive to the ears. It’s a Yoruba name that flows and is based on God (an “Olu” surname). But when you’ve only known one way to identify yourself all of your life, it’s going to take some adjusting to leave that behind…Am I right?