As it stands today, I am still Rosie Tapping. Although I became a married woman in April this year, I still haven’t changed my name. This is causing others a wide range of emotions and questions, though the predominant reaction seems to be “Gosh, doesn’t Tom mind?”, as if I’m confessing to having taken another husband since, or to having sold all of his surfboards whilst he was out at work.
img credit: kentucky blues
This year, one of my birthday cards from a relative was addressed to ‘Rosie Wright’. I furrowed my brow when I saw it, not out of annoyance – I understand that a lot of people just assume I would have changed my name – but out of a sort of sensation of out-of-place-ness; like having someone else sit in your favourite chair, or move things around on your desk.
“I don’t know this person,” I thought. I wondered what Rosie Wright might look like, and who she might be. I imagine Rosie Wright as an older, slightly plump lady wearing an apron and gathering apples for a crumble (a Google search reveals lots of normal looking Rosie Wrights – yoga instructors, solicitors, journalism students, make-up artists – no apple gatherers to see here). None of them are me though. It is like learning a new language – I try and make my mouth form it but it feels unfamiliar. I feel like I don’t know that person. She doesn’t feel like me.
Those of you with an unusual surname might understand how strange it would feel to part with it. Though ‘Tapping’ is far from ‘out there’, it’s still a surname you don’t come across very often. Any childhood nicknames always centred around my surname – Taperoo, Tapdancer, Tap Tap Tapping, and so on. (Even some of my adult nicknames – R Tappz, Taps – all seem to revolve around my silly surname!) Your surname quickly becomes a part of your identity. What would happen to my nicknames, if I changed my name? Would I get new ones? Would they feel like me?
To me also, my surname also feels like family. Sharing the same surname as my parents and my brother makes me feel proud. Being at home with the other ‘Tappings’ gives me a warm, safe, comfortable feeling, and though you don’t need the same surname to feel like that, somehow there’s something about it that makes me feel closer to them. My Dad works in a similar industry to the one I work in, and at work when people occasionally ask if we are related, it makes me swell with daughter-ly pride. I know that Tom is my family now, but whilst we don’t have children and aren’t planning to have any in the near future, I still feel like Tom and I are a couple, and my parents and brother are my family. I still have my parents’ home phone number as ‘home’ in my phone and it’s where I naturally feel I want to spend Christmas, and visit around my birthday. I just haven’t quite grown into the idea of having a new ‘family’ yet.
Even very superficially, I sort of like it that when you Google my name, my various social media accounts dominate the front page (not very security conscious, me). I’ve always been comfortable using my surname, and Rosie Tapping feels like blogger me, Twitter me, LinkedIn me, and so on. I always fancied writing a novel one day, and I have this daydream that my old teachers and people I went to school with will see my book on the shelves of Waterstones and instantly know I finally achieved my dream of being a writer. (I’m way too egotistical to have a pen name!)
Because I was so keen to hold on to ‘Tapping’, I did ask Tom if he would consider double-barrelling our names into Tapping-Wright, or Wright-Tapping, but he didn’t like the idea. In a way, I felt like his stubbornness on that issue gave me more of a free pass to be stubborn about not giving Tapping up completely! My brother is also called Tom so him changing to my name is out (not that I think my Tom would have given it a moment’s consideration!) I even suggested merging our names – Wrighting? Tapwright? But this was met with similar disdain!
I’ve also written a lot about change and identity over
the last year. Since turning 30 (and now31) I’ve had something of an identity crisis – finding it difficult to work out
what I want to do with the next 5, 10, 20 years of my life; and finding it difficult
to pin down my exact likes and dislikes.
I want so many conflicting things – a nice house, but a round the world
ticket; comfort and early nights with some adventures and wild nights thrown in
too – and these last two years have been a really period of change and
evolution for me. At a time when I’m
putting a lot of effort into working through who I really am, and trying to be
authentic and true to myself, it doesn’t seem like the right time to change
something that’s so core to my identity.
Does that sound strange? I also
figure that decisions don’t have to be made right now, and that it’s okay to
wait until it feels right. Some people
have said that I might change my mind when I have children, or once I’ve got
more into the groove of being married.
I’m definitely open to it.
Not besides anything else, right now when my to-do list
fills me with genuine fear, and I don’t have a spare weekend until the end of
September, the thought of filling in a million forms, sending away my driving
licence and passport, changing all of the utility bills and accounts (which of
course are all in my name), does not seem very appealing… (Whoever heard of someone not changing they’re name because they’re too lazy…)
To me, the most important thing about being married is being kind, supportive and caring to each other. Being a team, and loving and caring for an individual in a way that’s deep, unconditional and all-encompassing. To me, it’s about giving that person a break, being honest and constantly communicating. None of these things mean that we have to have the same surname.
What do you think? Would you hang on to your name if you
got married? Or are you married and have kept hold of it? Tell me I’m not
completely bonkers for thinking so deeply about this….