“Some people are pragmatists, taking things as they come and making the best of the choices available. Some people are idealists, standing for principle and refusing to compromise. And some people just act on any whim that enters their heads. I pragmatically turn my whims into principles.”
~ Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes
When I was seven years old, my father asked me a question. Though it seemed innocuous at the time, I realized over the years that it wasn’t exactly your run of the mill interaction between a father and his only child.
“OK, Jessie,” he began. “Which name do you like best – Matthew, Michael or David?”
I looked up from whatever it was that I may have been doing and pondered the question.
I finally answered with all the conviction of my seven years, “Matthew, Daddy. I like Matthew.”
“Great,” he said, “Michael it is.”
I’m not sure why we’d gone through the exercise as my dad was never one to be swayed by public opinion, but it’s nonetheless a conversation I’ll never forget. Later that week, my father filed the papers in our local court to begin the process of legally changing his name from Irwin to Michael.
As a middle school principal, my father was far from anonymous. He was a well-respected, outspoken and visible member of the community. And he was changing his name.
There was all sorts of speculation of course, but the most rampant rumor in town was that he must be running from either the IRS or the law. To this day, I have to chuckle at the idea that he was running from anything. For one thing, anyone who knows my dad knows that he has no fear of confrontation. I’d even say he welcomes it. For another, if he were ‘running’ from anything, I’d imagine that he’d have chosen to well, actually run. He didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t move or change jobs. He simply asked to be called something different going forward.
He’d hated his name since childhood. He’d been nicknamed Irv early on and it had stuck like an ill-fitting shoe. He simply never felt like an Irv. So at the age of thirty-seven, he decided to make things right.
We’d walk into our neighborhood eatery. “Ir – er, um – Michael!” the maitre-d’ would shout. Family friends would slip and catch themselves just as quickly. I’ll never forget one saying to me, ‘Lucky you – you get to keep calling him Dad.”
But I always imagined that it must have been hardest on my mom, to whom he was still married at the time. How odd it must have been for her to have to suddenly start calling her husband of seventeen years by a different name. Take a minute. Think about it. Weird, right?
So perhaps it is because I grew up with a father who was Irv one day and Michael the next that I think the following is a reasonable solution to my blog quandary.
I’m going to change our names.
Yup, that’s it. Sum total, I’m changing our names.
OK, there’s actually a bit more to it, but at least that’s the starting point. I’ve begun to migrate the blog to http://www.adiaryofamom.wordpress.com. Notice the ‘A’ – it’s A Diary of a Mom. Here, you will eventually find me (still Jess, but last name-less) with my two girls, *Katie* and *Brooke* and my dear husband, *Luau*.
This is of course, an imperfect solution. But I’ve decided, for a million and one reasons, that it’s the least imperfect of all the solutions that I see. It’s the tallest hobbit, if you will. This blog has become far bigger than me or my girls. It’s become a place where nearly a thousand people come every day – to talk to, to commiserate with, to celebrate with and to learn from one another. And I’m not willing to shut that down. I just can’t do it.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t change it just enough to protect what’s most precious to me.
I know that some of you might chide me for this decision. I must tell you that recent comments are not the reason that I am doing this. This has been brewing for a long time. In a meeting last week I told some very powerful people that I would hate to think that a vital message could be diminished by a less than artful delivery. Though I may not always care for the delivery of the messages on Diary (the anonymous ones that I don’t publish, for example, or those left by the commenter who changes her name and e-mail address every day), it doesn’t mean that the messages themselves aren’t sometimes valid. I’d like to think that I’m a big enough person to follow my heart even when I know that it may look as though I’m bowing to pressure.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be undertaking the monumental task of backtracking and changing names. Or, maybe I’ll just pull an all-nighter ala college and power through it all in one shot. One way or the other, I’ll keep a link at the old place until that process is complete and I will give you plenty of notice before I break it. In the meantime, I’ll be working on migrating to a nameless state. Toward that end, I’ve started a Facebook page for Diary of a Mom. It’s even linked to a Twitter account under the same name. Look at me go – all technologically advanced!
I know this is a half-assed solution. I know that to some degree I’m hiding behind my own hands and declaring, “You can’t see me!” I get it. I do. But it at least means that going forward my girls’ faces and names will be separated online. It means that their friends will come up dry if they google their names as they get older. It means that I can keep doing what I do here – and WE can keep doing what WE do here and I can (hopefully) sleep at night.
Seems like a pretty good solution to me – or at least a pretty tall Hobbit.