While I usually understood the politics of baby naming was a volatile sport, I didn’t grasp how true that was until we distributed our naming decisions with others. Two, we’re hyphenating our child’s last name. To say the pregnancy was unplanned would be an understatement. For a long time, we both lived under the fact that I probably couldn’t get pregnant. I feared infertility based on my polycystic ovary symptoms and our history of coital mishaps sans baby as final result. Just as much as we desired a kid, both of us were under the impression that people would be parents because that was just our lives never.
So learning we will welcome a miniature version of the two we threw us for a loop. We were only in New York City for five a few months at that time back. I was only three months into grad school. A child wasn’t in the cards for our “Year of Change.” Not, that we mind.
We’re beyond thrilled. But, hell, are we floundering in the water. Still, for as much uncertainty as Lil’ Peanut represents, his name was never a question. My partner and I chose potential baby names, a couple of years ago during one of our discusses our hypothetical family. And although the combination of our son’s first and middle names is a slight variation of that choice, his last name was always heading to be always a hyphenation of our identities.
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But people appear to truly have a problem with that. There is absolutely no doubt that we live in a world where in fact the expectation is all children will carry the patriarch’s surname. It’s a long-standing tradition, albeit archaic, that my wife and I both to involuntarily adhere. And if you skew that tradition, people will most likely disapprovingly respect you. They will lecture you about how exactly you are destroying the very fabric of lineage.
Just ask Molly Caro May in what happened when she provided her girl her last name. For my partner, the experience detailing why we’ve chosen to hyphenate our son’s last name has dropped along the same lines. Doesn’t he know that kids are their father’s property? Worst yet, they blame me.
Apparently I’ve forced my partner into agreeing to join our last brands for our child’s surname. Apparently I’ve gleefully emasculated him to exact my feminist plan of ancestral visibility. Because there’s no way a man would ever hyphenate his kid’s last name unless a female threw a tantrum to get her way-at least that’s the story they simply tell him as he fights to explain normally. Our son’s surname was a joint choice-and, if anything, my partner’s very logical demand.
We want our son to share our identities because he could be, after all, a mixture of the two-one part Scaccia, one part Daugherty. He is no more my partner than he could be me and vice versa. And we wish his surname to reflect that natural and cultural makeup, even if, as May puts it in her piece for The Hairpin, my surname ends up tucked away at the front. Our son, with his unisex first name, is a Scaccia-Daugherty.
And that’s something we’re damn proud of. But then there’s also the problem of generational sustainability. Exactly what will our son do if he has a kid with somebody who’s equally hyphenated? Whose surname shall they pick? Will they come up a crossbreed or something different completely? Will they recall tradition or defy it?
Will our son’s hyphenated last name expire in the trenches of adulthood or does it become the appellation of a dynasty? Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow asked variants of the questions in a 2011 NY Times article analyzing the durability of hyphenated surnames. Nonetheless it offered no definitive answer, nobody solution.
As to be expected, each couple approached the quandary of passing down a hyphenated surname differently, choosing a route that suited their lives and their lives only. One few stuck with tradition by transferring down the father’s name, though his name is unconventional even. Another couple thought we would carve their own path, combining two different hyphenated names into one.