My Daughter And I Have Different Last Names, Which Really Sucks
I’ve been thinking a lot about Kevin Federline, who has just had his fifth child with Victoria Prince, his third Baby Mama (unfortunate, but true – not that he had another child but rather that I’m thinking about Federline at all). Mostly, I wonder about all his children’s last names. Truth be told, I’ve been wondering about my one child’s last name and how confusing that is.
But first, Federline: He had two children with Shar Jackson, an actress. Then he had two children with superstar Britney Spears. Most recently, he had a daughter with Prince, a pro-volleyball player. Do Federline’s offspring all have his last name, or do they have their respective mother’s last name, or do they have both mommy and daddy’s last name? If so, are there a couple of Jackson-Federlines running around, plus another two Spears-Federlines and a Prince-Federline? Somehow, I can’t see Kevin Federline allowing his last name to be cut from the birth certificate. Then again, I can’t really see any of these women, all famous on various levels, giving up their last names on the birth certificate, either. I hadn’t realized the importance of last names. But it turns out they’re pretty vital.
I gave up my last name so that my daughter would have her father’s last name only. (Even as recently as last week, one of my best friends didn’t realize that my daughter had a different last name than me.) I gave up having my last name put on her birth certificate for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, her father is an only child, with very few cousins, so it was nice to have my daughter have his last name so that name could be passed down for at least another generation.
Second, as someone who lives a public life in the sense of becoming a relatively well-known writer in Canada, I highly value my privacy. I didn’t want my daughter being judged, good or bad, on having me as a mother. (At my daughter’s recent birthday party, a mother knew my work but had no idea that my daughter was my daughter and that our children were in the same class. She became all flustered, exactly what I don’t want my daughter to have to deal with.)
Giving up your last name does bring on headaches, though. Whenever we travel outside of Canada, which is often, the customs officers don’t quite get it. Without a doubt, they look from my daughter’s passport to mine to hers and then back to mine again, and try and figure out how my daughter is related to me and why she is with me at all. I sometimes thank god she looks like a mini-me because if she didn’t I’d be in for even more questioning then, “And who is her father?” And, “Where is her father?” And, “Do you have a letter from the father saying you can leave the country with her?” (I always have a letter from him – stamped by a lawyer – and more often than not they do ask for it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad they do check rigorously, for kidnapping reasons, but would they ask so often if we had the same last name?)
Don’t get me started on camp forms, and any extra-curricular forms. I should always use her real last name, but I don’t. For example, on camp forms, I use her last name and my last name, because my family is in the city (and her father is not) and if there was ever an emergency, I think it would be easier to track down an Eckler. But I often forget when I do use my last name, as well, so usually I’m like, “What you’re looking for is either under Eckler or…” I say, throwing out her father’s last name. Or a lot of the time when I need to call her school, I’ll say, “It’s Rebecca Eckler calling. I’m Rowan’s – throw out her last name – mother.” Certainly I could get this changed, to get my name legally on all her documents. But I like that she has her father’s last name – most of the time.
On an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (yes, I sometimes watch!), Kris Jenner was contemplating changing her name back to Kardashian, even though she is divorced from her famous reality television daughter’s father (who is dead) and is remarried to Bruce Jenner. She said something like, “I’m always saying Kardashian as your manager and I feel like a Kardashian,” to one of her daughters. I thought that was pretty rude to her present husband, whose name she took years and years ago. But I understood, also, that people probably think she’s a Kardashian anyway.
I also will admit that I have babies and marriage on the brain. If I marry and have a child with my boyfriend, I’m going to insist my name be legally listed. I don’t want to have two children, both of whom have different last names than me. But then we will have three last names (his and his children’s, my last name, my daughter’s last name, and one combined last name) in one family and I can only imagine the custom officers going, “Exactly who belongs to whom?” In fact, I’d like it if we did have a child, for that child to only have my last name for convenience; however, I doubt my boyfriend would go for that.
Then there is my friend who used her last name as a first name for her child and the father’s last name as her child’s last name. They are now divorced. And she definitely can’t change her child’s last name, because her child would then have the same first and last name. A friend’s friend actually gave up his last name (he hated his family) when he got married and so the entire family as the same last name – HERS!
But when I think of Federline, and his five children all traveling with him – if this would ever happen – and if they do all have different last names, well, what a gong show.
Do you have a different last name than your children? Do you think it’s not as easy?