Why do some Latinas choose to ditch their maiden name?
One of the topics of conversation this week in the MamásLatinas community (within the Celebrate Our Cultura group) is on the subject of whether you decided to keep your maiden or to take on your husband's surname when you got married and why. The answers from our members reminded me of what I thought was one of the toughest decisions I faced as a Latina bride 25 years ago.
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For me, the decision went beyond equality in our relationship, feminism or even giving up a part of my identity. Since I was marrying a gringo and moving from Chile to the States, taking on my husband's name meant that I would be ditching my family name and my heritage! During the first three years of my marriage I changed my name THREE times.
The first was Lucía Veronica Ballas Canales De Traynor. Sounds like the protagonist of a telenovela! Not only was it quite the mouthful but I was never comfortable with the concept behind "de" or "belonging to" or being dependent on anyone, especially a man. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that this lengthy last name didn't exactly allow me to blend in to my predominantly Anglo surroundings!
A few months after I got married I decided to do what many young American women were doing at the time--I dropped the Ballas (for me it was Ballas and Canales) and replaced it with my husband's Irish surname--Traynor. I took comfort in the fact that Lucía embodied my heritage and cultura. This choice lasted about a year.
I found that at work I would use Ballas while in my personal life I'd use Traynor. In fact, one day when my husband came to visit me the receptionist announced that Mr. Ballas was here to see me. Even though my gringo has always been very supportive of my decisions, "se le cayó el pelo" when he heard this! By the third year of marriage I joined the hyphenators and I've been using Ballas-Traynor ever since. Believe me, it hasn't been the most practical decision as it's always being butchered by credit card companies, the DMV and others.
The conversation got me thinking about my decision once again. My kids use only one surname--Traynor. So now what happens to my family name, heritage and culture? At least Carolina speaks Spanish and she has a Spanish name. My son's middle name, after my father, is Renan but he doesn't even use it! ¿Y ahora qué?
Take a look at the responses and join the conversation by clicking here! You can also share your comments below so everyone can see them!
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