[Article] Maternal Last Name, What’s That?

     If you are Hispanic, you know you have a mother and most importantly you know her last name. If not, your mother is just mom and if someone ask you for her last name, you will give your dad’s last name. This is a reality I discovered almost ten years ago. After getting married to a gringo, everybody assumed I was using his last name. When we registered our first daughter, that was born in Puerto Rico (@ military hospital), I filled the application and to my surprise it was no place to add the maternal last name for her. Technically, she only has one last name; her dad’s.

     When I was little I did not like my mom to use my dad’s last name. I always wondered why since she had her own. Sometimes she used ‘de’ and then his last name. I was a lot more comfortable with that. For me, my dad’s last name was as important as my mom’s. I was always proud of my long first & middle name as well as my two last names. In my daughters case, they only use their first name, middle initial and one last name. And do not even talk about going to their school and use your maiden name. They will call the cops on you for attempted kidnapping.

     I always wanted to be a lawyer. Probably because they become their last names. Most lawyers in Puerto Rico are known only by their last names. It is a symbol of empowerment and status. As an author, I have the opportunity to choose my pen name; it has no limitations. I can be someone else, I can use my maiden name or my married one. In reality, nobody cares much about an authors name. They are more concerned about their body of work. You become the author of…that is also a great way to be remembered.

     If you are trying to figure out if I changed my last name after all this or not, I will need to accept that assimilation got me. I changed to my husband’s last name after being married for about six years. It took me that long to figure out what I wanted to do. One day I was finally inspired. I was talking to a friend and she asked me why my husband had a Hispanic last name and I had to explained the whole thing. She said she was ok with using her maiden name as a middle name and dropping it for formal occasions. That was my illumination moment. I will use my husband’s in the middle just in case I have to drop it. Just kidding babe!

     I kept my middle name, added my husband’s last name and hyphened it with my maiden name. In other words, I only lost my mother’s last name. I kept my very long name and I have the last names my daughters would have if they live in Puerto Rico. Definitely, not too bad of a deal. I am not a lawyer, just an unlicensed architect. As an author, I have not decided yet if I am going to use a pen name, my real name or something else. For now, I am just Deb and Thirty Creative Studio is what I became.


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