Mail Call

I stared at the envelopes.  Three Christmas cards arrived in one day.  They all had something in common.  It took me a moment to realize it.

My maiden name.

The first one was addressed to me.  It was from my best friend.  She always used my real name.  She knew from the beginning of our friendship.  We discussed our reasons why we didn’t change ours.  Feminists that we are, it was obvious.  Our reasons were the same.

The other two cards.

My maiden “And The Boys.”

How fitting.

The first was from a friend who had a son in Tornado E’s class last year.  We walk as often as we can together during the week.  With our busy schedules. We make it once or twice.  I couldn’t remember telling her my maiden name, but I talk so much, it wouldn’t have surprised me if I had said it and forgot two minutes later.  Or she could have asked one of our mutual friends.  Or looked it up on Facebook.  Whatever the reason, it was an acknowledgement.  She might have known a few weeks after it happened, when I told my friends so they would understand if Tornado E acted a little odd and cut him some slack.  They did.  They also created a net to catch me if I fell.  I didn’t.  I dance a tight rope well.

The third card.

My maiden name “and Sons.”

My grandma.  She knew I never changed my name.  “Hollywood actresses don’t.  They keep their maiden names for professional reasons and use their husbands’ for personal business.”  I shouldn’t have been shocked.  This was the matriarchal side of the family, after all.  There hadn’t been a weak-willed woman born into that family in living memory.  But she had always addressed mail and checks to my married name.  Even my last birthday check.

Someone had told her.  At first, it was held a secret because we were “suppose” to be working it out.  It didn’t take long for me to realize I was foolishly hoping, and it all became permanent, just not legal.  Why not tell then?  But how and when?  With my mom going through chemo.  Without a set legal date.  With the worry of what would be said to my sons who regressed in their bathroom habits.  With his asking to keep it secret, just for a little while.  And then a year came and went.  The Clan knew.  But only because they guessed and gossiped.  My father’s mother gave me oh-so-not-helpful advice.  Quite similar to her oh-so-not-helpful marriage advice.  My mother’s family did not know.  I had asked for respected silence because I didn’t want to be gossiped about, because I felt like a failure, because of all the things mentioned before.  It’s easy to hide things when chaos reigns.

My maiden name “and Sons.”

When did she learn?  Was that why she stuffed so many leftovers in my hands at Thanksgiving?  Was that why she reminded me over and over how she could watch the boys if I needed it?  Was there a certain awe in her voice (much like my mother-in-law’s voice held) when she talked about how I did so much with the boys, by myself?  (Keep in mind that for the first year of our move, the ex was only in town half the month, spent football Sundays at the bar, and was gone on business and guy trips more frequently than the family deemed appropriate.  Not that I cared; that was my life, taking care of the house and boys without help.)  Does that mean I get an extra gift like The Friendly Giant at Christmas because I don’t have a spouse?

My maiden name “and Sons.”

An acknowledgement.

Yes.  My family.  My no-name household.  My boys and I.

It was a more fitting acknowledgement than the other’s Grandma writing how Christ will watch over me.  Um, thanks.


2 Responses to “Mail Call”

  1. rakster Says:

    mmmm.. . I’ve been wondering how it was all going. Tight rope sounds tough.

    love and wishes to you over this season – family strains and all that are all the harder at this time of year. So please take a moment to yourself over Christmas with something that you love to eat in your hand / mouth, and think of me over here in bleeding hot brisbane eating chocolate cookie mint icecream sandwiches, and I’ll do the same and pass you some good thoughts 🙂

  2. Ink Says:


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