Name Drop: I’m (Finally) Adopting My Mother’s Last Name

Liz Reyer with the author, the eldest, wisest, and coolest of her myriad offspring

Family and friends, I’m changing my last name to Reyer, my mother’s last name. Effective right now.

I am proud of the person I have become — I’m an artist, I’ve worked hard my whole life (ehh), I’ve taken great risks in the name of love and adventure, I’ve broadened my mind and spirit in study and travel, I stand beside and work for the rights of others, I eschew semicolons almost entirely — and it is my mother who made me who I am (except for the semicolon thing, she really hates that I refuse to use them).

It is my mom who has always encouraged me to be my true self, to fight for others, to take chances, and to embrace my profound goofiness throughout. She also saved our futures, whisking us from serious early perils and building a solid life foundation upon which to thrive. For the first eight years of my life she did this as a single mother, surmounting poverty and grad school (yikes), and making sure I had a childhood as she did so.

Flip to present, along with being the loving and conscientious matriarch of a bizarro family, a badass global executive, an avid outdoorswoman, and a nationally syndicated business advice columnist, my mother has become a dedicated and highly engaged activist. A primary focus of her activism is bringing down the very systems of racial violence and privilege that enabled her success by virtue of the benefits and chances society affords her white skin. She is working to defeat these systems of inequality and oppression so that all women have equal opportunity to strive and triumph through adversity. How’s that for a name worth living up to?

When my mom inevitably becomes a global icon, I want to coast on the coattails of her success, and having her name will make that much easier. And if ever I do well in this life, it is to her name that I wish to refer credit.

As to the source of the surname Usher, it is not a person worth addressing in a celebratory post. But I will say that it has become intolerable, especially in the context of our ponderously patriarchal society, that my name should reflect the pattern of unworthy abusive men laying title and power over the life’s work of women.

So I claim the last name Reyer, and with tremendous joy and pride I assign to it all that I have ever done, good or bad, wise or foolish, and all that I will ever do or be.

So that’s that, but it leaves an interesting opportunity. Namely, I need to come up with a new middle name. Comedic suggestions preferred.

Also, I haven’t told her about any of this, so I guess she’ll find out when the post goes live… surprise mom!


Update: my mother received this news with tears of heartfelt joy, and the new middle name is Calvin (hint, not after the stodgy old church reformer)