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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Name Game (and a Top Gun quote)

I’m keeping my last name after we marry. I am, and will always be, the person with the three names my parents gave me nearly 27 years ago. It’s a simple statement of fact for me, but for varying reasons. My names connect me to who I am. My names represent familial ties that don’t disappear when DJ and I take vows. And I’m lazy.

I am:

COURTNEY because it was the ‘80’s (hey, at least it’s not as common as Britney or Jennifer). It seems like every kid I grew up with had a name that ended in an “ie” “ee” or “ey” sound.

HEITSTUMAN (Hi-Stew-Man) because it is my mom’s maiden name. My mom’s dad’s dad was a blacksmith in little Colton, Washington. He married a woman named Katherine Becker, and they had 13 children before he died. My grandpa Bob is one of the best people on earth; patient, kind, full of mirth, sociable, and generous. DJ reminds me of him.

KRAMER because it is my father’s last name. And though my family name “ain’t the best in the navy”…. Oh, wait, this isn’t Top Gun… back on track. (Cougar and Merlin and Maverick and Goose!... did I mention it was the ‘80’s?))

My family name has meaning in this community, and I refuse to duck that meaning by taking on DJ’s name. And Kramer is who I am, personally and professionally. My high school diploma, BA in History diploma, and Master of Historic Preservation diploma all say Kramer. I am who I am.

Oddly, I didn’t feel so strongly about not changing my name until I started dating DJ. It’s about not him, or his rather boring last name. But I think that dating DJ has brought me to a new level of maturity. One where I recognize who I am, and what that means.

And having both of my parents last names in my name is meaningful to me. It’s a reminder of my grandparents, and the town we’re from. Hardworking, generous, industrious, family oriented roots. How could reminders of those predispositions be a bad thing?

My mom wishes she’d kept her last name. DJ’s mom wishes she’d kept her maiden name. My dad’s mom wishes she’d kept hers. My mom’s mom wishes she’d kept her last name. Imagine the shock of little Joyce Druffel, getting married in 1951 in the catholic church in small farm town America and not taking Bob's last name!!!??? Scandalous!

Lastly, although maybe the foremost reason for not changing my surname, is that I’m lazy. I have enough paperwork in my life, I don’t need to add contacting Social Security/ DMN/ Passport/ Bank/ Credit Cards/ Student Loans/ forwarding addresses/ Family/ Friends about the name change to my list of things to do. Especially if DJ doesn’t have to do them!

Sidenote: after 30 years of marriage, my dad looked at my mom and said “Sandi, I think we should be the Heitstumans now.” My mom was flattered, and appalled at the thought of redoing all of their paperwork!

DJ doesn’t mind that I plan to keep my name. He doesn’t care either way. And we haven’t really talked about what we’ll do when we have kids. I’d kind of like to give any daughter of ours my middle (mom’s maiden) name and my maiden name and DJ’s last name. Four names is too many, you say?

Maybe we should just both change our last name to Heitstuman?

If you could do it over again, would you change your name? Have your husband adopt yours? Create a hybrid? Any struggles with naming children?


  1. I have been really struggling with this, mainly because of the kid issue. I'm a product of the 80's and a Stacy, so I know what you mean about the "ee" sound!

  2. I'm happy I kept my name... kinda has a nice ring. Commonly mispronounced in a really bad way, but it is still our name.

    I think traveling out of the country as Courtney Kramer and Johnny Johnson with out daddy Dusty is annoyingly difficult and requires more paperwork. I've heard rumors.