6 Months – Name?

It’s been 6 months since the wedding, so that means it’s our half-anniversary today. I’m not sure how I feel about a 6-month milestone, especially because in February it will be 5 years since Mike and I have been together, and a year-and-a-half since he moved-in and we began living together. So, this 6-month milestone doesn’t seem like a big deal in comparison.

Mike and I were talking about this the other day, and we both feel like not much changed after we got married. Especially not for him, since I was the one who changed my name, he didn’t even have to do that. Well, frankly I didn’t have to do it either. I could have changed nothing regarding my name. But I wanted to help myself identify more with us as a family unit, and taking Mike’s last name has helped me do just that.

I didn’t completely lose my name either. I would never do that. You see, in Venezuela a married woman takes her husband’s last name and it’s placed after both of her family names. In Venezuela, I would be: Jennifer Mata Gómez de McMahon. Incredibly long and very inconvenient. Here in the US, I’ve always been just Jennifer Mata, and now Jennifer Mata-McMahon. Still long, yet not as long as the Venezuelan version, and a bit more convenient.

Of course, people at work still call me Dr. Mata, or Jen Mata, which seems very short and easy. I guess that’s why it’s stuck. Also, 6 months is not enough time for people to get use to the name change. I know I’m not quite use to it yet. Although, outside work, some people just call me Jennifer McMahon, or Mrs. McMahon, which I guess is the oddest of all of those names for me still. It’s interesting how much we identify ourselves with our names, isn’t it? Mata connects me to my Venezuelan roots.

Though, my name has always been an issue for me, or actually not for me, I know how to spell it. It’s been an issue for others. In the US when I say my name, people ask me to spell my last name, and I do spell it for them “M, A, T, A. Mata.” “Double T?, they ask.” “No just one T.” “Oh, Mara, they say.” “… No, MaTa, with a T, not an R, just one T, which sounds like a T. MaTa.” In Venezuela, they don’t know how to spell Jennifer. They don’t ask you to spell your name in Venezuela, they just write it as it sounds. I’ve had my name written it all different “Spanish” ways: Yenifer, Yeniffer, Yennifer. You see J sounds like and H in Spanish. And Y has the J English sound, so of course they would write it with a Y and not a J.  And pronounce it as “Henifer”, when they read “Jennifer”.

The kicker story, was that one time I had applied to a scholarship and got it. When I went to the office and told them my name they looked for my file. There was my file: Jennyfer Mata Gómez, and a second one just next to it: Jenny Fermata Gómez. I smiled and hung my head. I explained to the woman I was both those people, and she had two files for the same person; she had messed up the name. It took her a while to believe me, and realize her mistake, but eventually when Jenny Fermata never showed up to claimed her scholarship, I think she finally realized I was right.

McMahon is no piece of cake either. When people read it, they do not know how to pronounce it. They pronounce all the letters, and as I’ve been told, that’s not right. As it turns out, it’s pronounced McMan, as if the “h” and the “o” did not exist. Another problem is that, when writing it, people often don’t capitalize the second M. So after I’ve spelled it for them, they write as Mcmahon.  I now say: “My name is Jennifer Mata hyphen McMahon, let me spell it for you J, E, double N, I, one F, E, R, Jennifer, M, A, T, A, Mata with one T, hyphen, capital M, c, capital M, a, h, o, n, McMahon. All Ms in my name are capitalized.” Try that for size won’t you? It’s take 5 minutes just to get a person to write my name correctly. To have them then call me Je-Ji 😉

I’m kidding, I love my nicknames. And I have tons of them, but that’s a topic for a different post. I went on a tangent with the whole name thing. My point though, was that not much has changed since we got married, and 6 months doesn’t feel like any major milestone. My name changed and in conversation now, I refer to Mike as my husband. That’s another aspect, I guess I’m still not use to. But other than that, we live in the same place, have the same discussions over the same things, enjoy doing the same things, and carry on with life as we did a year-and-half ago.

I’ll let you know, once we get to the one year mark, if I see any more differences. For now though, the main change has just been my name.


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