Why I Care So Much That My Children Have My Last Name

It matters to me, maybe much more than it should, that Heloise and David have my last name.

I never cared if my wives took my last name or not. Or, to be honest, I was wise enough to say publicly I didn’t have an opinion one way or another. I was not evolved enough not to be secretly delighted if they did become Schwyzers.

When the children were born, I would have been content to hyphenate their names, or create some sort of composite of Eira’s surname and mine. There was no doubt they were ours, and I had no connection in my head between feeling like their father and seeing their surname printed on a preschool registration form or a medical chart.

And then the divorce happened, and breakdown after breakdown that pulled me further and further from the bunnies.

Because of my mental instability, I have supervised visitation only, once or twice a week. At most, I see my bunnies for a total of four hours in each seven days. (We also talk on the phone often.)

This is hard, very hard, but it is as necessary (given my state) as it is (one hopes) temporary.

Here’s the thing: it means so much to me that my children are Schwyzers!

Their names seem like lifelines, connecting our stories. I would love them no less if they had their mother’s surname, but I would be anguished to lose this tangible, additional, reinforcement of the reality that I am their father and they are my children.

Eira is with them every day of their lives. She is their north and south, their east and west. She is the best mother one could ask for and the most forbearing ex-wife this side of the Alamo. Every day, she is reminded tangibly that she IS their mother and that Heloise and David see her and know her as their wonderful ima.

I don’t have to do all that hard work of feeding them, getting them dressed, getting them to and from school and soccer and a million other things.

I’m also not allowed to do all that hard work. I just get moments that I can seize, and the hope that if I put together more stable, productive, healthy time the visitation arrangement might become more generous.

Until then, I have the visits, I have the phone calls, I have those sweet hugs and once-weekly bedtimes, and they have my last name.

OUR last name.

You don’t need to tell me it isn’t rational that I care so much that they are Schwyzers. I know it’s not rational.


It means absolutely everything.