What Happens When You Give Up Your Name

I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen. At the time, I was very tight with my dad and in a relationship with someone I really liked. My dad also liked him. It was the end of my sophomore year at Ohio State, so while I was in no hurry to get married, I figured it would probably happen one day. And if it wasn’t this guy, it would be someone equally as cool, and someone my dad liked.

I also knew, if I ever got married, I’d give up my last name.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like my name, I liked it fine—it was just kind of a pain. My last name, Storchan, was originally a French name, pronounced “Store-shawn,” but the English version was pronounced “Store-chin.”

To me, it seemed like an easy enough name, but for many, it wasn’t. I went through 32 years of people asking how to say it, or people saying it wrong. I couldn’t wait for the day I got a new last name, because as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t be any worse than what I was dealing with.

But I was stuck in a tough position. At nineteen, I was starting to get a good feel for the kind of person I was—and a large part of that came from my father. I didn’t want to give that up, so I decided to get a small tattoo, of my last name, on the lower, inside portion of my left foot.

It was my way of preserving our family history, our relationship and the name that was given to me.

I got made fun of quite a bit for that tattoo. The guys who lived in the apartment building next door (but were at our place most of the time) couldn’t have been more pleased. They joked that my new tattoo would come in handy if I ever got killed and the killer messed up my face and took all of my teeth.“This way you’ll be still identifiable!” they said. Other people said things like “Is that a tattoo of your name so you remember how to spell it?” or “Your last name? Are you scared you’re going to forget it?” 

 

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Everyone had something to say, but I didn’t care.

That tattoo was my way of paying homage to my father. I wanted to show him I’d never forget who I was or where I came from, no matter whose name I eventually took.

For some, giving up one name and taking a new one is a fresh start: New name, new person. It wasn’t like that for me. I always thought of taking on a new name as “adding on” to the person I already was.

I am proud of the life I built as Robyn Storchan. I didn’t have any older siblings to help pave the way through school or camp, and when I went out of state for college, I went alone. I made friends, got into a sorority, graduated college, got jobs, parented a dog, paid bills, built credit and bought a house, all with that name. I forged through 32 years of ups and downs, gains and losses, and mistakes and lessons with that name.

I was never looking to give up everything I was, I just wanted an easier last name.

My kids won’t have that issue. Our last name is easy. But that didn’t stop the topic from coming up just recently when my oldest daughter (9 years old) got married. It was a small, traditional Jewish ceremony held at our house.

The groom’s older brother was the Rabbi (ordained just minutes before).

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He was very creative with the marital vows, and once the groom vowed to pay for everything for the rest of the bride’s life and the bride vowed to take all of his money, the groom stepped on the glass and they were “married.”

During the reception, right before the cake (best part), my newly married daughter approached me and said: “I’m keeping my name.”

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I said: “Are you sure? He’s a good guy, and his last name sounds good with your first name.”

But she was steadfast in her response: “I like my name. I’m keeping it.”

And maybe she will. Maybe one day if she gets married again, (or stays married to the hunk she’s with now) she will maintain her current stance and keep her name.

But if she doesn’t, and she chooses to change it up like I did, she will still be Feng FuLan just as I will always be Robyn Storchan. She will always be the delicious, but cautious, 11 month old baby we picked up from China. She will still be “F” Coden, the smart, funny, sassy, stubborn, exhausting, relentless diva. And she will still be on her way to being the best person she can be.

F is who she is because she is our daughter, and that will never change, no matter what her name is.

 

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The happy couple.

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Thank you for being here!

If you have any friends or family in the Detroit area with kids, please let them know about Dim Sum and Doughnuts! We are working on big things and we’d love to have them on board!

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XO, The DS&D Crew

 

6 Comments

  1. Deborah on October 31, 2016 at 6:51 am

    I loved you as Robyn Storchan and the person you were… I love you as Robyn Coden too! Mazel Tov to F! Where is she registered? Xoxo



    • Robyn on October 31, 2016 at 7:08 am

      No more perfect comment to kick this post off, especially considering you’ve been married for how many years and I still refer to you as Garber. Dr. Garber, but always Garber. I love that you get it. You always do! We (I mean she) is registered at Neimans, Saks and of course, Bendel. Love you forever, Garbs.



  2. Laurane on November 2, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I also felt like a new last name was an addition to who I originally was and all that Laurane Walker had accomplished, but I always wanted to stay Laurane Walker. So when it came time to change my name, I hyphenated my middle name with my previous last name and changed my last name to Lake. So I will forever be Laurane Rose-Walker…Lake ?



    • Robyn on November 3, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Laurane! You’re back!! I’m so happy to see you here!! Your name is the perfect representation of who you are (at least from what I know of you). I love it, and I love that you’re here, and I love that you GET what I’m trying to say. Thank you for that. So happy to see you pop up. Don’t stay away too long!! Miss you!
      XOXO R



  3. Kathleen on November 6, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I always knew I was NEVER going to give up my maiden name (what I call my first last name) Lenhardt…it defines who I am and where I came from. It comes from a dad who had 3 girls and we all feel the same way. So we all have kept that identity in each of our own ways.

    When I became engaged to Roger, I let him know that I would take his name (it was important to him) but I was never letting go of Lenhardt. He said that was ok with him….So there you have it! We were both happy.

    I moved my first last name to be officially my middle name when I got married. I was sad to give up my middle name (which came from my great grandmother) but at the time I didn’t want 4 names (I thought it would be cumbersome). So I went from Kathleen Mae Lenhardt to Kathleen Lenhardt Meyers. I liked it. it was perfect for the next chapter of my life.

    In my heart I’ll always be a Lenhardt girl which to me is defined by a man who worked hard for his family, did all that he knew to make a great life for us, showed us what it means to be an immigrant from Europe with $7 dollars in your pocket, not speak the language and make something of yourself. Provide for your family and show unconditional love. Teaching his daughters that you can do anything if you put your heart/mind and handwork into it. There were no “boy” or “girl” roles or jobs (especially around the house). And I will go on and teach my own two kids this same philosophy. BTW, my son’s middle name is the same as mine, Lenhardt. My son has asked me over the years why I gave his this name and I am proud to explain it to him. My twin sister picked Lenhardt for both of her children’s middle names (boy and girl). This is our way of preserving him forever. But after reading this article, I will seriously consider getting my first tattoo! 🙂 XO



    • Robyn on November 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      This comment makes me happy because not only did you totally understand what I was trying to say, but also because your story is such a good one. You should be proud to be a Lenhardt girl. You are carrying on traditions, and all good ones. I especially love the “There were no BOY or GIRL roles…” Your father will be VERY well preserved in all of you with or without the tattoo. But if you decide to get one, please don’t make it a tramp stamp. I’m thinking that’s not what he’d have in mind for you.
      Love hearing from you, Kathleen. This comment made my day for many, many reasons.
      You’re a strong, intelligent woman. Exactly the kind of reader we love, the kind my girls would look up to.
      XOXOXO R