October 13, 2015 was a significant day in my life. I officially dropped my surname (Freebold) and legally adopted my husband’s (Fitzgerald) as my own. Married just over six months and I had finally felt ready to take the plunge. I’m sure some of you will read this and wonder what took me so long. Hadn’t I already “taken the plunge” by getting married? Wasn’t I just dying to symbolically demonstrate my commitment by sharing my husband’s name? The answer is no. I wasn’t chomping at the bit to sever that integral piece of my identity. I am wholeheartedly committed to my husband; not sharing his name wouldn’t change that. To many a name is just a name but to me, it’s a name I shared with some of the people I love and respect most in this world…a different kind of love than one has for their husband. The kind of love that molds you into the person you are today.
Freebold is a very unusual and uncommon last name. To my knowledge, the only Freebolds around are all part of the same lineage and there is something so beautiful about that. I look at my family, the family my grandparent’s created, and I am in awe. Two people loved each other and started this beautiful, crazy, loud, and unique group of individuals that I have the pleasure of calling my aunts, uncles, cousins, father, brother, sister, etc. I have been blessed with a very close family unit, geographically and emotionally. We have our own set of family traditions that have evolved with time, our holiday gatherings are never smaller than a group of 20, and birthdays and celebrations are made that much better when we can all be together. I value family above almost anything in this world because of “the village” that helped raise me.
With that being said, the deepest attachment I felt to my surname was the attachment it held to my father. My dad is the strongest, most driven, caring and loving man I know. He sacrificed more than I could ever truly understand for his children; I thank God every day for making me his daughter. Initially, changing my name to Fitzgerald filled me with all sorts of conflicting emotions; I felt like I would be losing a huge piece of myself. I wanted so badly to give my husband that piece of me but I had to give it to him on my terms, when I was ready. Marriage sneaks up on you. You’re busy with work, with planning, with life. Before you know it, you go from engaged to married and all of a sudden you’re expected to “leave” your family to create your own. Some of us just need a little rebound time after the nuptials to come to terms with all the new and shininess of married life, and that’s okay!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare
The truth of the matter is that I did want to share my husband’s name; I wanted it badly…I mean, I did wait 9 years! I just had to do it when I was ready to leave that piece of me behind, so-to-speak. On October 13th I woke up ready. I went to the Social Security Administration Office, filled out a very simple application, and in under 45 minutes willingly dropped a piece of my identity. I didn’t tell my husband what I was doing and surprised him with the paperwork later that evening…an emotional moment for sure. I was officially a Fitzgerald. No hyphenations, no funny business, just simply Fitzgerald.
I’m aware that it is not required of a wife to take her husband’s name or to even wholly drop her own, but I am a traditional woman and I did want to give that to my husband and to our future family. I wanted to share it with him and to create our own legacy the way my grandparents have created theirs. I want our future children and grandchildren to feel the love and connection I felt to my surname. I may have dropped a piece of my identity on paper, but it will live inside of me forever. That name, and the people who shared it with me, have shaped me into the person I am today and for that, I am eternally grateful.