Nick and I have been married almost 3 years. How did time fly so fast!? Three years of marriage and our first son on the way, life for us right now is beautiful and exciting.
When we got engaged Nick and I discussed what we would do for our last name in the future. Neither of us were super passionate about anything either direction. Because I had a business established, and because Nick didn't place any pressure on me to change my name, we decided to get married and just keep our names as we were born. We knew we would probably have to address this one day, but for the last three years its worked for us and thats all that matters.
On our honeymoon the entire resort addressed us as Mr. and Mrs. West (my fault! I booked the honeymoon and apparently wasn't specific enough). On our romantic candlelight dinner on the beach they even had menu's printed and we laughed all night about it. And then our adorable Bahamian server said "are you related to Kayne!?" -- Duh!
I guess you could say this was the first time we considered it although it started off as a joke.
The conversation about our last name seriously started a year and half ago when we got pregnant the first time. This is something we have had numerous discussions about and tons of time to consider. After a lot of thought, and talking through every scenario - we decided we wanted our family last name to be West. This may come as a shock to some, and sound wildly non-traditional, but my response to that is, we are doing what we feel is best for our family and what feels right to us.
Traditions are a beautiful thing. There are so many traditions we have carried out in our families that are so close to our hearts and bring out so much nostalgia. Like the annual West Family Christmas tree hunt, or eating oyster rockefellers in honor of Nick's late grandfather. So many beautiful memories come out of traditions in our family. But sometimes there are traditions in this world that don't necessarily feel right to us, that we may not feel obligated to follow. (Like, no way Nick was taking a garter off of me at our wedding!) As amazing as traditions can be, we shouldn't be forced to repeat them. And as society evolves and families come together in so many different ways, new traditions can be just as beautiful. We are both glad we live in a world where we have this choice and right.
We have thought about this decision so much, and through that we came to the conclusion that names are something you can decide to keep, or change if you wish. People choose nicknames for themselves and their loved ones, or new last names because that is something they want to aspire to be. This is all about making your own choice about who you are and wish to become, and what you wish for your future family. This is not a decision to make any kind of political stance, or rebel in any way. Changing or keeping your name is about your personal identity. You should only take someone's last name if it is important to you. So thats what we did.
Nick knows first hand the different ways that families can come together, blend, and separate again. Because of these life experiences he always felt a slight disconnect from his past and family history. So once the discussion seriously started about our family name being West he was quick to consider it. We started dating 10 years ago and Nick very quickly became a part of my family. He won over my grandma pretty much right off the bat because he was sweet and soft-spoken and she saw how happy he made me. Our relationship just worked and always felt right and the transition bringing him in was hardly a transition at all. And since then we've gone on countless vacations, had too many family dinners to count, shared lots-o-beers, and gone through some of the hard stuff together too. Because thats what family is for, to be there through it all. My parents have spent well over 60+ weekends with us making our dream house come to life. My dad has taught Nick so much over the years and I can tell you we are both incredibly grateful for that. I can't count the times Nick has told me "I don't know where I would be without your family." I know he has always felt like one of their own and its brought him a lot of comfort and security in his adult life.
I come from a family of A LOT of girls. When I first got married I remember feeling slightly depressed because the West name would be gone. (Obviously I didn't change my name so that wasn't our story). But I'd be lying if I said the idea of walking away from a name I've had 29 years, that I am very proud of, would have been easy. Nick was always sensitive to that so he never placed pressure on me to change it. It was just literally a non-issue in our marriage. In the last 10 years we have cultivated a relationship with my family that felt so true to us. It really didn't take much consideration at all for Nick to decide he too wanted to be part of this family in more than just marriage, but in name as well. We both felt excited and honored to carry on the West name, and give it to our future son. And just as I was reluctant to let go of my last name, Nick decided that using Cary as his middle name would be a great way to keep his "maiden name" while still getting the last name we wanted.
I feared this decision for Nick... Would he regret it? What if people are so hung up on this and pass judgement onto him? What if he has to spend the next however many years explaining his decision? Would we hurt anyones feelings? I've thought all of this through. And brought it up to Nick more times than I'd like to admit. (Babe, I just wanted to be 1000% sure!!) But at the end of the day we always came back to "this is what feels right for our family." And that should be ALL that matters. We have been building a beautiful life for us and our future children for years, and it is our decision how we want to raise our family, and name our family. I'm sure years from now this stigma will be gone and we will laugh about how much we had to explain this decision to people (I only hope we live in a world moving in that direction). But for now, while this is new and dare I say "progressive," go easy on us! Express some empathy and understanding. Don't be so quick to judge and don't be so hung up on the decisions other people make for their lives. We are not marching the streets asking all men to change to their wives names, but more just asking that you allow us to do so in peace and offer some support. And besides, the dogs have always been Jude West and Scout West and I don't even want to think of how hard that process would be through social security to change their names. Obviously, decision made.
Thank you so much for your support and understanding as we embark on the next exciting chapter of our lives, parenthood! We're not ready to announce baby boys name yet, although we are about 99% certain on what it will be! Just gotta see that face first!!
We love you all!