On Keeping My Name…

I’m not changing my name, simple as that. Not because I’m a feminist, not because I like my name (I do), not because I don’t like Mr. Toadstool’s name; simply because I don’t have the option (not that I want to).

Image via Simpsons Wikia

I always wondered why Marge’s last name was Simpson just like everyone else’s, until in seventh grade my English teacher explained to me that in some countries the woman drops her last name and takes her husband’s. Really? Just like that?

Through the years I became familiar with the concept. I even got to talk to my Canadian roommate’s mom who explained her (very good) reasons for changing her name. (She wanted to have the same last name as her kids.)

The thing is in Mexico (and most Latin American countries) women don’t change their name—that’s just not an option. You just can’t change your name. I mean, I know there’s the option, but it’s a very complicated process where you need to go to court and give them a very good, legitimate reason for you to change your name, and even then they might not let you.

You know how it’s a cliché that we Latins have long names? that’s because we have two last names. In addition to my first and middle names, I have my dad’s first (paternal) last name and my mom’s first last name. Mr. Toadstool’s and my kids will have Mr. Toadstool’s dad’s last name and my dad’s last name, and so on.

There’s no way around it—when you’re born your parents are only asked about your first and middle name, and they automatically add the last name—simple really. And as I love visual aids, ’cause that the way my brain understands things, I made one:


So, I’ll be Miss Toadstool Dad’slastname Mom’slastname forever, and my kids will have my last name as their second one, although they might not use it as much if, like me, they only mention their second last name when it’s required.

Will you change your last name? If not, would you give your kids two last names?


Mrs. Toadstool

Obregon, Mexico
Wedding Date:
December 2012
Happiness Comes in Stripes
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  1. mslyre Member
    mslyre 512 posts, Busy bee @ 3:00 pm

    Thank you for explaining this! My school has a very large Hispanic population and I’ve always been curious as why so many have hyphenated last names, or different last names from their mother, even when the parents are still together! I never know which name they typically go by because even though they will tell me one last name, my computer has them listed with both!

  2. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:21 pm

    I actually love the Latin way of carrying on names. It’s a great way of carrying on your family’s history.

  3. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:47 pm

    That’s really interesting. I love learning how different cultures do things.

    I am changing my name when I get married. For me it’s because my parents divorced when I was young and my mom re-married not long after that. For most of my life I have not lived in a house with anyone who has the same last name as me. I am really excited to have that and feel like I am part of a unit.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Sabrina Mix, Guest @ 4:27 pm

    Here in Brazil we have the option to change or not. I haven’t change my name, not because I like it (I don’t) but because I don’t like my husband’s last name too. So I was practical and didn’t change it, not to change my papers too.


  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Foxy Mama, Guest @ 4:31 pm

    Miss Toadstool, I had the same question you did–except I was born & raised in the USA! I simply didn’t make sense. I used my last name as a middle name & took Mrs. Fox’s dad’s name for the last name…. then when we divorced it was an *ordeal* — repeat, *ordeal,* to get my family name back. This time around I kept my birth name! Lots of people call me Mrs. NewHusbandsLastName, which throws me off — a lot! — but I’m really glad about this decision!

    Congrats on your upcoming nuptuals… a lot is in a name!

    Mrs. Fox’s Foxy Mama

  6. painauchocolat Member
    painauchocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:16 pm

    I had no idea it was so difficult to change your name… or why so many Latinos have “compound” names. Your diagram totally helped!!

  7. Member
    MoonlightRose 902 posts, Busy bee @ 5:33 pm

    Although I live in Canada where women frequently do change their last names to that of their husbands, I’ve decided to either have two last names (mine and his) or not change my last name at all. My grandfather was the only son of his family who had any sons and my father was the only son in his family, so I’d like to keep the family name and pass it on to my children. My husband is also happy with this choice because his mother and I actually have the same surname, so it really is both of our family name. In fact, he’s considering changing his surname to mine instead! Right now, he has his father’s surname.

  8. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 6:01 pm

    Such a great explanation, I love how the latinos address name changing!

  9. Member
    futureMFG 283 posts, Helper bee @ 7:34 pm

    I’ve known about this, although I think it’s silly when the parents have the same last name. I have a student whose last name is listed as Martinez Martinez. Gets me every time.

  10. scone Member
    scone 184 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:25 pm

    I love it! And we are forcing our children into the same situation, one day they can choose to go with both or one of the last names but legally they get two last names because we are going to have two last names (we did it so that we will both have the same last name and when there are kids we won’t be questioned as much as to why our names don’t match, my mom used her maiden name for work and there were always questions because her name was different…)

  11. Member
    bebefly 1753 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:54 pm

    I actually love how the maternal side is carried through in Latin countries.

    In Quebec women aren’t allowed to change their name, ever. Which is odd because in the rest of Canada it’s business as usual with the name changes.

  12. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 10:35 pm

    I am in Canada and I know about Quebec’s “rule” about not changing the last name of the women, and I think it’s ridiculous. I want to change my name because I want to have the same name as my husband so the whole family will have one name. (And like I have been telling everyone… the only reason I am getting married is because I don’t like my last name LOL)

  13. Member
    lanalnoco 1436 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:22 pm

    I’m gringa but FI is latino… I’ll be keeping my two last names, he’ll be keeping his two last names, and our babies will have his (paternal) last name followed by my (paternal) last name :o)

  14. Member
    quinnofhearts 7 posts, Newbee @ 12:25 am

    @Sabrina Mix: We are so in the same boat. My husband’s last name isn’t bad, but I would prefer to keep my last name. In the culture I grew up, it is necessary to change the last name to your spouse’s. My mom and sister keeps asking me to change mine and my husband who is of the same culture as me said, his parents will be offended. =(

  15. Member
    yog87 64 posts, Worker bee @ 10:48 am

    I’m marrying a Brazillian and I was so shocked at how it is traditionally done in Brazil. As much a I love many many things about Brazilian culture this isn’t one of them and I will be taking his full surname as my own. Where I am from it is a sign of respect and I can’t wait!

  16. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 11:37 am

    I like the visual aid! It is confusing and complex.

  17. Member
    julienick99 5 posts, Newbee @ 9:24 pm

    I’m keeping mine because I’m a physician and known by my current name in the town and surrounding areas that I practice in. I actually like his last name better but due to it being such an ordeal to get licenses and insurance plans changed while risking that things get screwed up and you don’t get paid its just not worth it. If I would have married before starting a practice in this town or before finishing school I might have taken his name but I’m been in private practice for 5 years now and am well established.

  18. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:34 pm

    I love the visual aid, it was so helpful. I really love this option of naming. It seems to make so much sense.

  19. Member
    clumsylawyer 1351 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:55 am

    I find it quite interesting that, even though you keep both names, it’s still the paternal ones which get eventually carried through (i.e. hypothetical Toadstool babies will carry their grandfathers’ names, but nothing from their grandmothers).

  20. Member
    BabyBlueEyes 235 posts, Helper bee @ 2:26 pm

    That’s so interesting! I gotta admit, I actually got out a piece of paper and drew my own diagram using myself and FH and our families so I could understand it!

  21. Member
    MrsACarpenter 725 posts, Busy bee @ 9:05 am

    I’m using the “-” and keeping my old and adding my new name. Mostly because I like my last name and thats how people know me. But my family is so blended that I want to keep my maiden name so my daughter didn’t feel left out as the only person with the maiden name in the family. And I didn’t want to dishonor my new family and hubby by not taking it.

  22. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:15 am

    @Sabrina Mix: I bet paperwork is a pain, I did know women in Argentina do it, but didn’t know about Brazil.
    @Foxy Mama: Thank you! I think if I lives in the US I’d change it too, simply because I’d like to have the same lastname as my kids, but I can’t imagine losing my last name.
    @MoonlightRose: I like when I hear about husbands taking the wife’s name, in the modern world, it really doesn’t make sense to just have it one way. If it works for you why wouldn’t you do it? :)

  23. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:25 am

    @futureMFG: There’s really no way around it, is not like parents can pick what to put and you really can’t have just one name. Official forms always ask for both paternal and maternal lastname and you can’t make that up, it is a bit odd, but maybe because I’m used to it, it doesn’t sound that weird.
    @Mrs. Scone: Here, when there’s a single mom registering her child on her own, the child get’s the mom’s exact lastname, which is confusing because everyone will think the kid is his/her mom’s sibiling. I think it’s great you’ll give them both lastnames, because they’ll get that connection to both, instead of just one of you.
    @clumsylawyer: Yes, it’s the downside to it. Like my grandparent is still waiting for a grandson borned from a son has a kid to carry the name, so far only grandaughters or sons from daughters have had kids, so no great-grandkid has the family name as his/her first lastname.

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