Since I’m still high on Newlywed fumes, I figured this would be a good time to talk about something I put a lot of thought into: changing my name.
Since I was a kid I knew I’d change my name when I got married and the reason may surprise you. Miller isn’t my last name. Well, it is, it’s my dad’s last name, and the name I’ve gone by since college, but my legal name is actually very long because it’s a combination of my mother and my father’s last names. I’m a hyphen.
In fact, when I was a kid, I thought I had to say the hyphen, like it was a third name. I changed my last name not out of privacy issues (although that came in handy later in life) but because as an actor Miller just made my life easier. It fit on headshots well, people knew how to pronounce and spell it, and it flowed pretty well with my middle name.
I’ve always loved the fact that my mom didn’t change her name. She rocked her maiden name before it was cool to do so, and I was hyphenated before it was a thing…which was an enormous pain in my butt as a kid (and as an adult sometimes–my whole name doesn’t fit on my driver’s license) even though I admired my mom for her choice. I felt like I was constantly explaining to teachers and kids why I had two last names and any time standardized tests were mandatory half of my name would end up being deleted because it couldn’t fit in the allotted scantron boxes. So as a kid, I vowed that if I got married I would enjoy the bliss of having only one last name.
And then I got engaged and I felt really weird about keeping that lifelong vow to myself—my name is my identity. My name is my connection to my parents. I may be starting my own family, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up the one I started with! My mom taught me how to be a strong, self-sufficient woman—would I totally be dissing her if I gave up her last name? And my Dad! I’m the last Miller! Will my dad be sad about that–the end of an era, the end of a family tree?
Also, I kinda felt like a bad feminist for even consider changing my name.
I asked The Fella how he felt about me changing my name, and he answered honestly and said it didn’t matter to him, but that he’d really like for our children to have his name. My first thought was, “Why can’t they have my name?” I read a great Buzzworthy piece about what feminism means a few weeks ago and one woman said that she had her mother’s last name, her father said “You did all the work, she should have your name!” when she was born. I loved that, but did I really want to bring children with three last names into the world? Flashbacks of my childhood explaining that my mom was a Ms. not a Mrs. and that my parents had different names but they were married and getting mis-alphabetized in school functions started coming back to me.
You can see I’ve thought about this from many angles.
In the end I came up with about as much of a compromise as I think there can be in these situations. I will stay Miller publicly, in my professional life, but I’ve changed my name legally so that my husband, my future dog and future children and I will be one singular family unit in name. I’ve never had that, so it should be interesting to see how that feels.
Having said all that, when I made the reservations for our honeymoon I used my legal name, as I’m prone to do in real life, but being all super duper long and stuff, the hotel shortened it; the entire time we were on our honeymoon The Fella and I were referred to as Mr. and Mrs. My-Mom’s-Last-Name.
Did you/Will you change your name when you got/get married?
Err, I scarfed down a bean burrito (TJs) without taking time to
breathe take a picture.