Two weeks before I was to get married and live happily ever after, I was at the store stocking up on candles. Upon returning from my honeymoon, I wanted a cozy home for my husband and I to relax in. I couldn’t stop trying on my wedding band and I was chomping at the bit to refer to him as my husband whenever I got the chance.
I have this thing about setting the stage, so to speak. I fantasize about how quaint and perfect everything will be during really exciting, life changing times.
However, on this sunny September afternoon when the leaves had just started to fall and the smell of apples was laced in every breeze, I was knocked out of my daydream of being married and becoming Mrs. Smith faster than I can drop $100 at my favorite candle store.
The man in front of me had a set of suave blue eyes, a heavy Irish accent, and was chatting up the lady at the register when I put my candle load down on the counter. He placed his credit card face down on the counter while he dug in his wallet after realizing he probably had enough cash for his latte-scented candle collection, and I saw he shared my last name. I’d never met anyone who has the last name “Bingham” and wasn’t related to me.
“Your last name is Bingham!? That’s my last name!” I yelled in his ear.
“Ah! Welcome to the family!” he said, covering his ear drum as he turned towards me (please don’t forget his Irish accent, it’s one of the best parts to this story).
“Only I’m not going to be a Bingham any longer. I’m getting married in a few weeks. To a Smith.”
There were no words of sympathy he could find at the moment. His face dropped, he looked down at his shoes and shook his head. Then he walked me to my car, carrying my bags, expressing his deepest sympathies.
I cracked open my flip phone so fast it almost broke in half as I called my soon-to-be-husband and jokingly told him Smith was just too common and I probably should keep my maiden name.
Nonetheless, I ended up changing my name to Smith when I walked down the aisle. I guess I’m just traditional like that. I wanted nothing more than to take my ex-husband’s last name when he proposed. The plan was always to take the last name of the man I married, and until that chance encounter, I never considered not doing it. The impulse to keep my maiden name came and went quickly, and I never looked back. From that moment on, my ex has called me “Smith.”
And to this day, almost 20 years later with, three kids, a few homes, and a divorce under our belt, he still does.
After our divorce, I thought about taking Bingham back, but I just don’t want to.
When I was a Bingham, I felt like one. Since being a Smith, I feel like a Smith.
My kids’ friends call me “Mrs. Smith,” not because I ask them to but because they just always have. And I kind of love it.
They know I’m divorced, but in their minds, I have the last same name as my children. And that was the deciding factor for me when I was toying with the idea of taking back my maiden name over two years ago when my ex and I decided to separate. My kids are Smiths, and I want to be a Smith too.
Okay, I won’t lie, dealing with all the damn paperwork I’d have to do to get my maiden name back was the last thing I wanted to do with everything else I was dealing with. And as I stood in my kitchen making cookies instead of filling out the paperwork to change my name, I realize it just wasn’t that important to me.
No, it’s not too late to change my name back. I totally could, I’m not as overwhelmed as I was back then, but I’m not going to. I don’t regret not doing it two years ago, and I haven’t changed my mind since then.
It’s more important to me to share the same last name as my children and not have to deal with a mountain of paperwork, not to mention correcting everyone who would still think my last name is Smith.
It’s just a name. It’s not who I am, and so I’ll be keeping my married name.
Unless of course that handsome bloke from Ireland decides to knock on my door, propose to me and insist I change my name back to Bingham while presenting me with a bag of scented candles. That just may be a good reason to rethink my decision.
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