What’s in a name


Family Tree

I read a really interesting post yesterday by a fellow blogger who has, after separating from her husband, decided to revert back to her maiden name.   It got me thinking about what is in a name and if it matters.   Her blog post is here:  The Great Big Name Change (I will sit here and drink my tea whilst you go and have a read.  Do make sure you come back though).

I was 23 when I got married the first time.    And immediately changed my name.  I didn’t even really think about it.   I just knew I would.  I don’t know if that is because things were different 23 years ago or if it was just me but there was no contemplation about keeping my maiden name or even double barrelling our names.   Overnight I became a Brewin.

When we divorced ten years later it never really occurred to me to change my name back to my maiden name, as Michelle has done.  Though I can see why she, and many others do.   I guess legally at that point I was a Brewin, as were my three children.   So even if I no longer felt part of the Brewin family (actually I never felt part of the Brewin family but that is a whole other blog post) like it or not, technically I was still a Brewin.    And continued to be until I married Mr B seven years ago.

Where again clearly there was no discussion about changing my name to Barrow.    Which means I have now spent as long with different surnames as I ever did with my maiden name.   A maiden name that will die out with me, there are no more,  I am the last of the line which does make me sad.    I wrote about it and why I then adopted a family middle name earlier this year:  WW1, VE Day, and my middle name but even now it doesn’t make me want to revert to my maiden name.

God forbid Mr B and I ever split up and I still can’t imagine going back to my maiden name, it no longer feels like me, who I am.    Is social media “to blame” for that?   Is it social media that is really cementing in our minds our names and their being a part of who really are?   Clearly Barrow is a huge part of my life.   Not only is it obviously my surname (though you would be amazed how many times I get asked by PRs who need to send me something what my surname is, even after a lengthy email exchange) but it IS who I am now.  Who I introduce myself to people as.   I do truly say at blog conferences “Hi, I am Mummy Barrow”.   It is my twitter name, my Blog name, my whole online persona.     The idea of ever changing that is something I can’t begin to imagine.

Had social media been around when I was in my twenties would it have made me feel differently about changing from my maiden name in the first place?   Would I have been seeing my name written out more every day and been known by that name by people on line and therefore more attached to it.  Maybe if I had been using it log on to websites, to place food orders, to book holidays it would have felt more attached to me?

Does that make any sense?    I don’t remember really using my surname on a daily basis when I was in my 20s.   Yet I see it every time I log in to my blog, Twitter, Facebook, it is there, reminding me I am a Barrow now.

But that didn’t change Michelle’s mind and she is going back to her maiden name.   Maybe she is just braver than me?

I would love to know your thoughts, what does your name mean to you?

Photo of a family tree courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • Interesting post.
    I feel quite attached to my last name, it feels like the only link I have to my late Father, I am the last of the line too, the name dies with me if I change it. Having said that, to me it seems natural to change my name if/when I get married, maybe if the time arises I will feel more conflicted.

  • When I got married I changed my name BUT I also kept my maiden name for work. And then when I found myself online and started blogging and writing I had that persona already good to go and so I kept the two ‘people’ separate which has been a godsend. It’s meant I can be me (not someone’s wife or mother), and my kids are protected because it’s not their name. It almost like a planned it all knowing I was going to have a blogging career *ahem* (I didn’t). Plan it that is. I did/do have quite a good blogging career 🙂

  • Great post! I use one name for work and one name for the rest of my life. I quite like it when I can leave Katy Hill at work and be Katy Farley for the rest of my life! xx

  • Nice one.
    I have been written to as :- Barrow
    Barrell !
    It has been fun!
    Nowadays if I’m calling someone for the first time I
    announce myself as “Barrow – as in Wheelbarrow”
    It works!