A rose by any other name

So the name game has reared its interesting featured head a couple of times recently, in real and online life. I met Deda for drinks (ginger ale for me, Guiness for her) last Thursday and it came up in conversation. Understand it is not the first name of our child that is causing difficulties, it is the last name. It also came up on the Eumom discussion board.

I think we have come up with a happy medium. The child has to have a surname. I have a problem on principal with just accepting the status quo of the father’s surname but Himself has gone through life thinking (a) he would always have the same surname and (b) his children would have his surname. This is fair enough – why wouldn’t he think otherwise? I expect if asked that most Irish and indeed European men would admit same if answered truthfully. Likewise it was only later in my life that it occurred to me that I could keep my name. (or as the saying goes “a feminist is a woman who keeps her father’s surname”) And it was still later that it occurred to me that there was no longer any logical reason why my child would not have my surname in some form.

What’s in a name? But why is Smith anymore relevant to me than Murphy? And how are either of these names relevant at all? My surname, smith, obviously once described my family’s work: the closest any of my relatives ever came to that kind of work was my grandparents’ tannery and that’s stretching the similarities a lot. Murphy is an anglicisation of an old Irish name and comes from the patrinimical system of naming (son/ daughter/ wife of). Both interesting historical signifiers. Funnily enough both of Himself’s surnames refer to invaders/ colonialists settling in his part of the country: one comes from the french for an enameller or chain mail maker (now if that isn’t belligerent) and the other comes from Wales in both its English and Irish forms. His surname is very peculiar to his part of the country.

So how important is it to continue recording this history? Surely now that tradition no longer holds sway we can start making up our own rules? As Deda pointed out on Friday, it doesn’t matter anyway because women’s names prove that no name is set in stone and women understand that from an early age. One of the Eumoms remarked that consistency is essential for the child and also from a legal, pen-pushing point of view. My suggestion of give it a first name and leave it at that will make it’s life a misery if it doesn’t rock stardom as a career.

We have come up with a solution. As I mentioned himself’s surname is unusual and rather nice. Let’s be fair the surname smith though useful in its anonymity ( only if coupled with John or Mary) will hardly set any pulses racing. So for history sake this child will have my surname as a first name and if and when our families increase we will use the other 2 surnames as firstnames too. My mother did this in a way with my eldest brother too soreally we are not all that original.

D.C. Yields To Parents On Babies’ Surnames: City Ends Restriction For Married Couples

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