I meet Greg when I was 18, the first few years of our relationship revolved around nights out, not enough sleep, arguments and an unhealthy obsession with the Morrisons Deli counter. To be honest I thought he may have been another one night stand (classy I know) after our first date of seeing the first Iron Man film, getting drunk and staying the night, I thought that was that.
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Back then, I took someone wanting to sleep with me as some sort of validation of feeling wanted. I still had a lot to learn, I didn’t expect to hear from him again. But, I did. 9 years later, 4 houses, a 3-year engagement and our second child on the way we are still together. Still not getting enough sleep though.
We never planned on getting married straight away, and when I did start planning the wedding something cropped up. The small matter of finding out I was pregnant with Elijah. I didn’t want to walk down the aisle the size of a small whale so we put it off. I was raised by a single un- married mum, having a different name to my baby’s father didn’t bother me. I didn’t see the point of rushing in to get married just because we were expecting a baby. In this day and age, it is not such a big deal. Maybe, to the older generation yes, to us we didn’t really care. I lost my Grandad at a young age and was still very reluctant to relinquish his name. That and the fact my name would become Cockerill. Yes, Moore-Cockerill wasn’t exactly one you could double barrel.
Elijah was born but things didn’t go to plan. He was admitted to NICU. It then raised some confusion as generally the baby takes the Mum’s name in hospital. It took some explaining that no we were not married, and Elijah would be taking Greg’s name. A couple of weeks later he was registered officially. I was outnumbered. Doctors/ dentist/ nursery forms and even the bills at times, always asked what relationship I had to Elijah as my name was different. We began thinking it was about time now Elijah was happy and healthy to plan the wedding again.
But, like a lot things, life got in the way and we never got around to it. We constantly joked that we were husband and wife, after all we had been together for 9 years. Other friends around us got married, but we were happy as we were. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, did it matter we had a child? Not to us, and 70% of the people we knew who had children were not married either. I didn’t really think too much of getting married when I was younger, as I was from a single parent family I just didn’t experience that family unity. The kind where you have your mum, dad, brothers etc. all in the same house and normally with the same name. I never dreamed of the dress, the cake and even after I met Greg I certainly didn’t think I would be marrying him.
As Greg and I began to rack up the years and now the children, (I am now 5 months pregnant with my second as I write this) something in me craved the stability. If we go down the psycho analytical route I am sure my craving for the 2.4 children family set up, is down to not having this as a child. Again, though I didn’t want to get married when I was pregnant. We discussed the idea of a registry office wedding before the baby is due, then having a big lavish ceremony afterwards but it didn’t feel right.
I had seen a couple of people I know change their names by Deed Poll, and it seemed like a good idea. This baby would of course take Greg’s name, just like their brother but then it left me. The odd one out. So, for £15.00 and an extra £10.00 per copy I legally changed my name and took Greg’s. I wouldn’t ever dream of judging someone who had a baby unmarried, with a different name to the baby’s father after all I have done it. A name really doesn’t mean a lot, it doesn’t show the love, the bond that you all have together. For me, it was a sense of belonging I craved. A stability I never had. I wanted to have the name my children have. It was a symbol of something that I had missing in the house I grew up in, it stayed with me.
Deep down I felt like I had betrayed myself, after all if I didn’t care what others thought, why was I changing my name? Why did I feel the need to conform with society’s expectations? Who knows, I felt differently to when I was younger. I wanted the whole lot kids, husband, career, and the big house (still working on some of them). I am sure I could have all of these things without changing my name but as I became a mother my priorities changed.
Going through what we did with Elijah being in NICU and the op also left me confused. I felt changing my name would also show the journey we had been on and where we are now; waiting for baby number two. I also had a very clear idea of how I wanted my children to be raised. I didn’t want them to have to feel like I did growing up. I wanted to let them know they belonged, that we were one. A strong family unit ready to take on the world. Do you all need the same name to do this? Probably not. For me, it was the right thing to do and therefore I chose to take my partner’s name before the birth of my second child.
And what a bloody name it is hay?!