Tag Archives: claiming

Names and Identity

We all have at least one, because we have to be called by something other than, “Hey you!” A name which, in part, identifies who we are.

Our name is representative of our personal history, and our story.

Like most, I was given a name when I was born. My name represented who I was—daughter of Liz and Bob, sister of John, Jeff and Jim.

When I married, I dropped my surname and took my husband’s, representing my relationship to him. Although I was proud to be known as my husband’s wife (a new layer of identity), I felt somewhat wishy-washy, ambivalent, about my name change.

After decades of being Judy____, I was now identified as Judy Miller. That was an adjustment. I worked full-time and was concerned that my clients wouldn’t know me by my new moniker, so I hyphenated the two surnames. My understanding husband supported me; however my three brothers felt otherwise. They assured that our family name would be carried on through their sons, if they had them (they did). They didn’t understand that carrying on the family name held little importance to me; my name recognition was about business relations and the bottom line.

The importance and significance of names began to change when Mark and I were to become parents. We spent months of hours-deep thought and discussion into the naming of our oldest.

Mark and I went through this same process with each new addition into our family. Each time we thought about how our child’s name would be perceived by peers and adults; we tried to picture our infants as children, teens, young adults, parents, and grandparents.

We considered how their name might affect them in school, as an adolescent and as an adult. How their name might stand out, might not “match” them. How would they be perceived professionally? What would kids shorten it to? What nicknames might be created out of their name? How would kids taunt our child?

Celtic favorites were dismissed. We adopted our daughters from China and our son from Guatemala. We felt it was of utmost importance that we keep their birth/given names because they linked them directly to their birth identities. We also decided to give our kids family names—one from my side and one from my Mark’s, claiming our kids as our children and weaving them into our family. We felt doing this would be an initial step, the foundation of merging their birth and adopted identities, critical for a healthy future.

Each of my kids understands the significance of their names and how they came to be called what they are called. We continue to struggle with sports, school and government forms, writing really small to get an entire name on the line or in the box. But it is important to include all of their name it because it represents that child.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Claiming, Family, Identity, The International Mom

The Ripple Effect

An act sets something in motion, an effect. Sometimes the acts are kind or gentle, such as a hug; to calm, to bolster or to say, “I love you.” We can observe the reactions and effects of that act—in the posture, emotional engagement or a rewarding smile.

Acts resulting from displeasure, defiance or anger have other effects or consequences, often unforeseen. Sometimes it takes someone getting hurt to understand that there was truly a reason for implementing and sticking to the expectation or rule. Rules don’t exist “just because.” They exist for restraint, control and safety, often based on much consideration. Such is the case in our family.

Punishment is not necessary if the “offender” has a conscience. The fact that someone has been hurt by another’s lack of following through (another type of act—the non-act) should be sufficient. Observing the emotionally or physically injured party is a constant reminder of a job not well-done, or as known within our family, done “half-assed.” A reminder of inconsideration.

And so it was that I was the recipient of inconsideration, of one of my children’s (the-one-who-shall-not-be-named) half-ass job of filling the dishwasher. Upon checking the status of the dishwasher the other day, I found the utensil baskets to be littered with vegetables—corn, green beans and carrots. You know, a little bit is okay; one-third full is not. We have an industrial strength dishwasher, necessary for a family of six, but it isn’t going to grind down and dispose of a half-bag of mixed vegetables during the rinse cycle.

The vegetables and crammed-full dishwasher screamed of, “I don’t want to do this.” (I saw and understood the message, my child. But guess what. I don’t care. Last I knew, you where a member of our family and therefore responsible for pitching in on chores and doing other “memberly” things.)

A long slender ice tea spoon seemed like an easy and safe way to get the vegetables out without unloading dirty dishes. I thought…

Pots and pans do not go into the dishwasher.

Neither do knives.

Focused in my task of cleaning out the veggies, I did not see that large serrated Cutco knife (it can cut anything) in one of the over-stuffed baskets, next to the basket handle. Blade out, point up. The knife went ripping into and across my finger and knuckle, like butter, well before what I’d done registered. The knife stopped only because it hit bone. Blood began to gush out and I tried to stop it with pressure under cold water, while struggling not to faint. (The sight of blood makes me woozy.)

One of my neighbors bound my cut tightly enough so that I could make it to the doc-in-the-box. The nice doc numbed me up good and insisted I look inside my finger and knuckle after he had staunched the bleeding and before he closed the wound. It was…interesting, taking me back to my graduate days in osteology. Then the doc mumbled something about the tendon involvement. Did I remember about tendons? (Yes.) Unfortunately, I needed to see a hand surgeon (who later declared that my tendon would heal without surgery since the cut was vertical). Yippee.

The doc began to stitch me up. Mother’s Guilt washed over me as I dialed friends on my iPhone, intermittently snapping pictures of the doc’s fine handiwork, asking for help in ferrying my crew safely home from various activities.

The accident could have been worse; one of the kids could have been involved, suffering something worse than a nicked tendon and multiple stitches. I again revisited “the rules” with my crew during dinner the other night, while eating haphazardly with my splinted hand:

Pots and pans do not go into the dishwasher.

Neither do knives.

As one of the kids started to call the guilty sibling out, we “shushed” her. This child will remain unnamed. We all know.

Heartfelt apologies matter. Forgiveness is just as important. Seeing my child’s conscience at work, being aware of what was supposed to be done and why, is enough for me. Well, that and the fact that doing dishes will be the primary chore for this child for some time to come. I doubt the effort will be half-assed. I might even have this child help me take the stitches out next week.


Filed under Parenting, The International Mom