What's in a name?
I have been married twice. I dated my first husband six years before we got married, and we were married 7 years. We didn't have any children.
I've been married to my current husband for 12 years now and we have raised 3 children together. My step-son was 7 when we got married (19 now and out of the house), and our boys are 9 and 11.
What is bizarre is that neither of my husbands have a very close relationship with their fathers. In fact, I have never met either of their fathers. To take that even further, I have never met a SINGLE person on either of their father's side of the family. So... to put that into practical terms, I have had a last name for 19 of my 45 years that really had no "meaning" to me. My first husband was the only "Smith" (not his name, but just using as an example) I knew but then I carried that name. My second husband is the only Cobb I know other than our 3 children. Let that sink in for a moment.
This has made for some very awkward life moments:
Since I'm really into family in general, and I love old family names and family history, I bought my parents an Ancestry.com kit for Mother's or Father's Day one year. I also bought one for myself and my husband. I love looking back at all of our relatives and heritage, but building my husband's family tree has been difficult.
This has led me into some deep thought (doesn't take much for me to go deep 😜).
In my opinion, a name carries weight. Identity matters.
Having always worked in the medical field, my name is something I sign every single day.
I prescribe medicine so it appears on prescription bottles and insurance claims and lab and imaging orders. Nurses answer the phone "Amy Cobb's office, how may I help you?" I am listed as a primary care provider for about 2000 people. I don't mention this as if I am anything special. I most certainly am not.
But do I feel odd having a last name plastered all over HealthGrades and pill bottles when I have no physical, emotional, or spiritual connection to the name? Yes, I am married to a Cobb. But what makes him a "Cobb?"
I can't grin at my husband and say "you laugh just like your daddy." I can't look at my boys and tell them they have the Cobb nose or the Cobb stubborn streak. I can't say "boys, your grandfather would have loved to see you hit that ball, march that field, fix that jet." I don't know any Cobb recipes or Cobb traditions. I don't know if or where they went to church, what music they loved, or how they earned a living.
And so again, is this how fatherless children feel? What about the motherless child? Is it the name that carries the weight or the connection itself with a parent, a heritage, a history?
For my adopted friends and patients, what does their adopted name mean to them?
Is it a name filled with love, hope, and acceptance or is it a daily reminder of what could have been and what may never be?
Not knowing anyone else with my name is a first-world problem. I realize that.
But it is a thing.
I'm learning to acknowledge my "things." I'm learning to feel those feelings, name what's missing or hurting, and process what thoughts can do to my body.
Is this shame I am feeling? Regret? Did I even do anything wrong? Who is to blame - or is blame even required?
Another ebb and flow in the circle of life, the jagged bonds of connectedness that barely keep us together - sometimes by one single strand of a lineage.
I reached out to my writing group to see if any adopted writers had a perspective about the meaning of a name. Ann C. Averill wrote a beautiful piece about her experience with her name, and I am happy to feature it as a guest post on 10/12/21. Thank you, Ann, for your bravery and vulnerability to share with my readers. ❤️