‘Yes, Haydan is my daughter.’
‘No, my child’s last name is not the same as mine.’
‘Yes, I am her mother.’
‘No, I am not divorced.’
‘Yes, I am married…..to her father…the one with the same last name as her.’
‘Yes, she is ‘mine’ as in my daughter…’
‘No, I am not a Russian mail order bride.’
These are all questions I’ve been asked in some fashion or another—well aside from the last one in regards to being a Russian mail order bride. It is very easy to tell by others ‘looks’ as to what they are thinking when I introduce myself. I find myself saying ‘Hi, I am Haydan’s mom, Ashley Alteman, HAYDAN’S MOM, ASHLEY ALTEMAN’, as to validate the point that I am in fact, her mother.
I was born in Canada in 1984 and moved to the United States in 1990. Do you remember much from the first 6 years of your life? Yeah, me neither. My entire life, my education from 1st grade through my Bachelor’s degree, everything I’ve learned and experienced has been in the US.
Along the way, I’ve learned who the INS is. If you are unfamiliar with Immigration and Natural Service’s, let me give you a rough idea what it’s like to deal with them. Imagine the DMV….and then add like 97 more hoops to jump through, longer lines than Disney Land’s Matterhorn, FBI
interrogations interviews in very close perimeters, and you pretty much get the idea. It is ONE GIANT EFFIN’ HASSLE.
It took my family (Mom, Dad, Sister, & I) 10 years to receive our Permanent Resident Cards. Yes, you read that correctly, T-E-N years! My dad was not recruited by some big mega-corp to come work in the US and **poof** we all had Green Cards. He wanted to start his own company, in Arizona of all places. Don’t ask me why the hottest place on the planet was his desired destination to set up shop. Regardless, we took the old fashioned route—-and it took A LONG ASS TIME.
When we finally received our Green Card’s in 2006 I was a couple weeks away from getting married….to an AMERICAN. YIPEE! I could now become an ACTUAL American Citizen! However, my Green Card would last me ten years, ironically the same amount of time it took my family to get our new ‘Permanent Resident’ status. After all the shit we went through to get the damn cards, I was just happy to have something in my hands that allowed me to get a REAL paying job…so I never applied for citizenship!
Within a few months of marriage, I found out I was pregnant. Before I knew it, my husband and I had a baby girl. While filling out the birth certificate as all new parents do, I realized my new human I/we created wasn’t going to have the same last name as her own mother.
I was so damn tired that I didn’t really care for the first few years of her life. However, now nearly seven years into the parenting game, it’s sort of starting to peeve me that my kid’s name is not the same as mine. She will write our little family’s name down on paper with colorful markers; her and her dad’s will be perfectly written and then she gets half-way through mine and sort of gives up. ‘Why do you not have the same last name as me, Momma?’ is a frequent question. I tell her ‘I’m a leader and follow no man!’ or ‘There is no law that says you must change your last name when you become married.’ or my favorite, ‘It’s old fashioned. I’m not old. Fashionable? Yes. Old? Not yet.’
However, at this juncture, with classroom contact sheets (with parents first & last names), over-the-top security checks for parents volunteers (with full names printed on laminated badges), signatures on e-mails, introductions at school, parents saving my name into their iPhone to arrange ‘Play Dates’, it is beginning to feel a little awkward.
I’m assuming that most parents/teachers at her school just assume I am her nanny, the babysitter, her older sister (haha, I’m flattering myself..), her dad’s mistress, whatever.
The most fun is the doctor’s office. I called to get an up-to-date vaccination record last week. I spoke to the nurse who informed me she’d leave it at the front desk. She indicated I’d need photo ID to receive the records. ‘Will my last name being different from Haydan’s pose a problem?’ I asked. ‘Hmmmmm. I will figure that one out! Don’t worry!’ Thankfully the nurse wrote on the envelope: ‘HAYDAN VACCINATION RECORD *Being picked up by mother-Ashley Alteman*’ My legal name to clearly not be mistaken!
I starred at that envelope for quite some time. It really bothered me. It’s so stupid—-it’s JUST A NAME!! However, I baked that little human in my womb for a long ass time and while she may have my eyes and my killer sense of humor, we do not share the same last name..and it bugs me.
My Permanent Resident card expires in 2016. As much as I want to continue to linger in my feminist ways, it’s a name that binds the three of us together….until some man takes her away from me and steals her last name from her—-unless she takes my lead, or becomes a lesbian.
Regardless, I have downloaded the forms to become a U.S. Citizen. I’m sure that process will be complicated enough (Just the test portion alone is frightening—presidents, wars, branches of government, everything I’m sure I learned/forgot in high school.), but I’m beginning to think that I might just take that extra step and make my legal name the same as my family’s. The family my husband and I created, not the one my parents did.
A small flashback as Smash as a ‘model high school student’
It will be painful to relinquish ‘Alteman’ for many reasons, primarily ones that involve dealing with INS, the DMV, and renouncing my ‘loyalty to Canada’ (as the pamphlet says)…but it’s time. I can’t keep up the facade as a Russian mail order bride for much longer. I’m awful with accents and I don’t think I’m fooling anyone…
INS….HERE I COME!!! I wonder if I can change my legal name to Smash while I’m there?
It Helps More People Find ‘Crazy Life of Smash!’