Today, I became Amanda Joyce Bindel.
Yeah, John and I have been married 16 years. We have two kids. Until today, I’ve been Amanda Joyce Fowle. Now, when Caroline was one or so, I changed my email address to amandabindel at gmail dot com, after she started getting birthday party invitations from playgroup friends that were addressed to Caroline Fowle. That, I think, I just confused people even more. I’ve had several people comment that they never could keep straight which was my name and which was my married name, as I started using them interchangeably. And I couldn’t keep up with which name I’d given on forms for the kids. Was I Amanda Fowle at music class or Amanda Bindel. I couldn’t remember. My name tag for Caroline’s school, which prints for security purposes from my drivers license information, showed Amanda Fowle. I am no longer freelancing, so I have no current ties in the professional/publishing world to Fowle. So I decided to just do it. Change it!
Of course, the first question on many minds is why did I not change it when I got married. My answer to that was always, “Why would I?” It was more work to change a name than leave it after marriage. I was who I was. My husband had actually had his name legally changed already when he was adopted when he was eleven. I had been Amanda Fowle my whole life! Little Miss Ambitious that I was had been published as Amanda Fowle. Once it is in black and white like that, you can’t change your name! And I had to set a feminist example. I mean, in another generation, no one will even consider women taking on a man’s name. John was estranged from his family at the time, so I had no connection to the bigger Bindel picture, either. My dad had only daughters, so I argued that I needed to keep the name alive. I even went so far as to joke with John (though he says he never agreed to such) that we’d give any daughters we had his last name and any boys would get mine. That was in the day that I only joked about having kids. Because it was not gonna happen. No way.
But now, I live with three other Bindels. We have developed a wonderful relationship with the Bindel clan, and I love the name and connection of the large family. Ironically, as we joked that there weren’t many Fowles to carry on the name (which my dad thought was just fine and even joked that he’d change his name to Bindel himself), my girls’ generation so far has only one male Bindel. Out of John and Irene’s eleven children and twenty-eight grandchildren and, at this point, something like forty-two great-grandchildren (really, it changes daily during some baby booms!) only one of those has the Bindel name and is a boy. (There are ten great-grandkids so far with the Bindel name.)
Another possible question: Do I wish I’d have done it sooner? No. It’s kind of like waiting to have my kids until I was older. I would not be who I am as a mother had I had kids earlier. I would not be who I am as a woman had I changed my name at “I do.” I needed a little more time. I’m glad that on my girls’ hospital records, when they look at their baby books, they will see Fowle and can ask about my name (and come to their own decisions about their own name.) I am glad that I was able to have the conversation with Caroline about her options as a woman as we drove today to the Social Security Office.