Thursday, September 22, 2011


Turns out that Baby Tiebreaker is a … girl! The most recent ultrasound showed a healthy and rapidly growing little lady. Far and away, the baby’s health was our paramount concern, so the good news to date is obviously encouraging.

As far as the baby’s gender tilting the balance of power at Casa de Ts in favor of the girls, I’m still digesting. My brain is still a bit in denial that we’re having a third. Any thoughts beyond that have been scattered and still under development so we’ll have to circle back in a future post when my mind is more clear on that front.

I confess, though, that one thought keeps popping up and I’m almost ashamed to admit it. I can’t help thinking how I will not be passing on my last name.

Granted, for my last name not to “carry on,” I’m assuming: a) my girls will be straight, get married, and go traditional by assuming their husband’s last name; and b) August doesn’t have children. For today, we’ll keep the tone light and address only assumption “a” as assumption “b” is a deeper and more loaded topic.

I suppose the other caveat to assumption “a” coming true is that my daughters opt out of the whole hyphenated last name thing. But given the option to hyphenate versus adopting their husbands’ last names, I honestly hope that they would go with the latter.

Now before any neo-Feminists out there start burning push-up bras and penis effigies, I’ll be the first to admit that the tradition of assuming a husband’s last name is most likely rooted in an antiquated system when daughters were often treated like chattel and fathers sold them off in marriage like baseball cards or used cars to perhaps not-so-deserving grooms. I get it. But that’s not how at least most of us roll these days.

The wife’s adoption of the husband’s last name, it seems, is a compromise masquerading as tradition that no one seems to really know why but we just do it anyway. Perhaps an analogous comparison could be drawn to a fiancĂ© spending thousands of dollars on a silly ring as “consideration” to lock in the engagement with his prospective fiancĂ©e. Most of us follow tradition, well, because that’s just what everyone does and we don’t want to rock the boat. Conformity is just plain easier.

But somewhere along the way, I assume, a crafty young woman with a desire to honor her original surname invented a hybrid of last names by combining her maiden name via hyphen with her married name. I appreciate the innovation. I respect the loyalty to her roots and family. I understand that overall, it’s not that big of a deal. But I’m still not a fan.

Hear me out. I’m not a fan of the “Baxter-Birney” because I’m chauvinist or old school or anything like that. No, my beef with hyphenated last names is much simpler. Where does it end? Allow me to illustrate using random NFL players’ names.

Let’s say Mike Sims-Walker and his wife have a son named LeDennis Sims-Walker. Meanwhile, Maurice Jones-Drew and his wife have a daughter named DaMichelle Jones-Drew. Assume LeDennis and DaMichelle get married. Is DaMichelle going to follow her mom’s lead and go hyphenated as Mrs. Sims-Walker-Jones-Drew? Let’s imagine she does.

Now assume BenJarvis Green-Ellis and his wife have a son named Dneywa (pronounced “Da-Wane” even though spelling suggests otherwise), while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and his wife have a daughter named Lashofanda. Next thing you know, Dneywa and Lashofanda are getting hitched and sure enough, we have Mrs. Green-Ellis-Rodgers-Cromartie.

You see where I’m going right? If we take LeDennis’ and DaMichelle’s son and marry him to Dneywa’s and Lashofanda’s daughter, basically their children are screwed. They’ll need to wear a XXXL-size jersey when playing sports just to fit half of the last name on the back. Their driver’s licenses will have to fold out like an accordion. They’ll need extra sheets of paper on every standardized test to fill in all the circles of their last name in number two pencil. You get the picture.

As for passing on my last name, what really is the big deal anyway? It’s not like my buddies call me “Teravainen” the way we refer to Noonan, Parker, Erwin, Oster, Martell, Fallis, or others who regularly answer to their last name. And to be honest, my last name was a pain in the ass for so many years. It’s been mispronounced and misspelled my entire life. I don’t think I was able to even write it until some time in junior high school. Plus, it’s not like my last name will end with me – I have plenty of relatives with the possibility of passing on Teravainen as a last name.

The truth is probably twofold. First, I have come to treasure the uncommonness of my last name. It’s kind of a badge of honor for me. I like when people recognize its Finn roots. I don’t even flinch when I hear someone say “Ter-uh-vay-nee-in” because it happens so frequently. So I suppose the second part is I always envisioned sharing that pride with my kids who would in turn similarly enjoy passing Teravainen on to their children.

Like I said earlier, I’m ashamed to even admit that this thought process has gone through my mind. When looking at the big picture, I could have much bigger problems. Thank you for just bearing with me and playing the part of therapist for a little bit. Much appreciated. I’ll move on now…

On second thought, maybe Teravainen-Johnson doesn't sound so bad after all.