What's in a Name?

IMG_9942I was thoroughly conflicted about changing my last name when I got married.
Don’t get me wrong: “Alef” had all the ingredients of being passed over–mispronunciation, general awkwardness, the first seat in the first row of every class for every single year. (Sorry, dad!  I know it’s a great German name, and all!)
But as I walked to the court-house to make the papers official, and as I stood in the interminable line at the Secretary of State for my new driver’s license, I had second thoughts.
Or maybe they were first thoughts; I’m still unsure.
Something about giving up my identity, my history, my family, my alphabetical yearbook status, my solidified relationships with Amy and Jason, and mom, and dad and Elizabeth, and all other Alefs just bothered me.
I told dad and Elizabeth about my dilemma.  It was Elizabeth who, years earlier, told me that I would be who I was going to be no matter what my name was.  That I would “grow into” a bigger, better version of myself that the world needed: as Megan Foster.
I appreciate the name Foster.  I kept it when I divorced because I wanted to stay akin to my children–for them to see that we still belonged together on school forms and directories.  Also, I find that I’ve learned to live into my surname: I foster.  Or at least, I try to.
Don’t get me wrong, I often set the bar so high for myself (like so many of my fellow female friends do), that I fall short.  But better to fall short from a high standard than merely remain the status quo, right? Shoot for the stars and we’ll hit the moon…or something like that.
A colleague at work recently recounted an “epic mom fail” of hers: she lost her you-know-what in front of her kids after a stressful day.  She dropped a casserole in a glass container.  It shattered all over her kitchen floor.  It was Mother’s Day.  She’d made this particular casserole herself…for herself.  She cried.  And swore.  And cried.  And swore.  And when her two tween boys came to help her clean it up, they just made it worse and she told them so…in that voice.
You know the one.  My other friend Tracy calls it “Shakazoo”. It’s the voice women use in moments of sheer desperation and resignation.  We’ve given up.  We’ve hit a brick wall.  The crying and the swearing and the yelling just doesn’t cut it anymore.  We’re done.  As in: DONE.
When my colleague recounted the story at lunch the following week, she asked, Why do we come down so hard on ourselves?
Good question.  But I think a more pertinent question to ask of ourselves is Why do we do what we do?  What’s our why? (#HeatherKelly).
Whys matter.  Words matter.
Of course, words matter to me.  I adore them. I ponder them.  I play with them.  So, now, divorced, years later, I contemplate what I’ve “fostered”.  I set my bar high.  Is it high enough?  Is it too high?  I try to use my “foster” as my why.  It has been my daily intention.  Foster: to encourage, to cultivate, to nurture, to champion, to uphold, to stimulate.  I foster.  Or at least, I try to. 🙂
And as Matt and I move forward in our relationship (almost one year!), we discuss marriage–at some point–in the future.  I wonder about his last name: Fuller.  How lucky am I?  I mean really: Fuller?  Not only does this guy make my life SO MUCH Fuller, but he enhances the lives of his kids, my kids, and anybody lucky enough to see who he really is.
Nobody has a crystal ball, and with five kids in the mix, we’re in no hurry.  Everybody needs to be okay and happy; I can foster that situation.
But it’d be so much Fuller, that I’d be happy to change my name, again.


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