What is in a name anyway…

We’re back home. Been here two whole days. It is nice to have all the things you take for granted until you are not home and don’t have those things. Like sitting in bed, sipping a small amount of bourbon over ice with only the bedside lamp on while the babe is asleep and the man is watching Taken 2. I’ve come to enjoy my moments just before bed by myself in our room. Its peaceful and relaxing. This Heavenly bed doesn’t hurt one bit either. I capitalized that on purpose. If you don’t know, you should. The Westin hotels all furnish their bedrooms with this particular bed, and it is quite lovely. So lovely that we actually bought the whole package which includes pillows (2 down and 2 hypo-allergenic) bedskirts, sheets and comforter among other things. It seems silly. I never thought I would be one of those people who would pay more for something so mundane as your bed. Everybody sleeps in a bed. And millions (probably more) sleep in a less than stellar bed at that. And here we are paying a premium for a bed that is likely built by the same people who make those “less than stellar” beds previously mentioned. It might be the same bed with just a different cover encasing it. All I know is that when we stay at the Westin or any of our timeshares (we really only have one, but it is spread out over 16-20 properties) I sleep like a baby. And you might think that has to do with the fact that we are on vacation. I don’t care. I’ve come to an age in my life where sleeping well is important. Do you think it is a coincidence that this bed was bought shortly after Calliope turned 2? Because, believe me, the timing is not lost on me. And I have been sleeping better since we got this bed. And you can’t even argue that life has settled down and we are just more relaxed, because everyone knows that is bull, shit.
So what is it that brings me to bed before Michael tonight? It has to do with names. Calliope is starting school this coming Monday. We are very excited for her. We visited the school today as a precursor to just dropping her off come Monday. So she would know some of the other kids, understand the layout a little bit, meet and interact with the teachers for a while. We just watched for an hour and a half as she participated in coloring, eating rice and beans, throwing sand in her hair, shoveling water in and out of buckets… We could have stayed there all day watching. She loves it there already. Right now, she is loving the space, the activities, the freedom of running around doing whatever, whenever. As time goes on, she will love the interaction with the kids and teachers and everything else this place has to offer. We left feeling very good about our decision to enroll her there. And of course, it has been a lot of paperwork. Trips to the doctor for a formal written OK that Calliope attend school and is not a danger to the other kids. Field trip forms, disaster preparedness forms, emergency contacts, medical information, likes and dislikes, potty training specifics, and on and on and on… Oh yes, and there are the supplies. An extra pair of shoes, two sets of clothing, rain gear, lunch box and sippy cups. All of which have to have her name on them. As I sat there putting her name on every item that she would be taking to school everyday, I started thinking about the fact that her last name is Lasmanis.
I have always been super happy about Calliope’s name. First, middle and last. I don’t regret any portion of it and never will, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset that she doesn’t have my last name. I am still upset over the fact that if the adoption situation in New Orleans had turned out more positive, that baby girl would also have been a Lasmanis. Hopefully I have not expressed this more than once. Because we are a gay couple and can not be legally married, we would not have been able to adopt a baby in Louisiana as a couple. Michael would have been the one to adopt, and that was decided based on his financial background. I haven’t exactly been working all that much since Calliope was born, so my income is not nearly as stable or sufficient as Michael’s has been. And since he was adopting, it would have raised one too many eyebrows for the name of the adopted child not to be his own. I was willing. If it meant that we could go through with the adoption with one less question mark, it was worth it to me. Adopting as a gay couple, across state lines is hard enough as it is. But as I sat there writing her name over and over, it made me just a little sad that I would have been singled out. Not left out, because that would be me being a drama queen. Just different than everyone else in the family. Garig. Michael and I have discussed several times the idea that our second child would carry my last name. It seems pretty simple and straight forward to me. And it truly is not that big of a deal, but as with most things, I like to play it all out in my mind and think it through, hopefully to some beautiful well thought out conclusion. Just don’t bet on it. So you ask yourself some of the age old questions to get you started. What have people before us done in this situation? Well, there are two answers that come to mind immediately. One, there aren’t that many gay couples with kids that I know personally. Supposedly, we only make up 10% of the population as queer individuals, so the percentage of us that have kids has got to be a lot smaller than that. And two, straight couples combine their last names or they all take the same last name. We can’t do that. I love Michael Lasmanis, but I don’t want to be Michael Lasmanis. I’m Michael Garig. Logistically, its a nightmare. And that is putting it mildly.
The next question I ask myself is why it matters at all? And the best truth I can come up with is that it is one more thing that points to the fact that we are different. As much as I embrace being different, there is a part of me that also wants to fit in. To be part of society. An accepted part. And sometimes, there is some comfort in knowing you are normal. I love it when I relate a story about Calliope and what she is currently going through and other parents chime in saying how their child just started the same thing, or just finished it, or are right in the middle of that phase. Its a great feeling that we are raising a child in much the same way other people do. The best we can 🙂 But here I am with a different last name than my family and can’t do much about it. True, if my name were not the same as my partner’s, this might be less of an issue. But the fact that we are same sex is what led to the same name being an issue in the first place. (yes, i know that same sex couples sometimes have this problem too, but that doesn’t count!) All of this also reminds me that we have no boundaries. Since few before us have done this (raise kids as gay parents) there are no rules about how it should be done. I found that when I was a young adult, being gay held the same lack of rules. While there were plenty of role models, it was a lot less developed than the social expectations of the traditional male or female. I didn’t have to play sports. Hell, I didn’t even have to like musicals. (i love sports and love exactly two musicals) I truly could do what I wanted. Freedom is scary. In my mind, giving my last name to a second child sounds perfectly reasonable and within acceptable boundaries. There is some argument about the kids being in the same school and not being recognized as siblings, but somehow I think the teachers and staff will know just fine. Maybe the other parents won’t catch on, but do we need them to? The ones that matter, they will know.
And finally, is it just me being insecure? Lord knows that happens from time to time. I do worry about being at the airport and someone questioning whether or not Calliope belongs to me. I don’t have any way to prove it. Its a good thing we look so much alike 🙂 Having the same last name would be helpful, at the very least. Then again, growing up, the siblings I was raised with all had separate surnames and that didn’t seem to matter. Its fairly important though. Its likely that we will adopt a child from another state like Louisiana and that would mean using Lasmanis. Is it ok if my answer is simply that it would make me feel better to have the second one share my name? I know I’m not alone, or separate from the rest of my family. I know it doesn’t mean the kids belong somehow “more” to Michael. I just don’t want to be the only Garig. I want to write Garig on a lunchbox one day. Oh, it seems so silly. But I just can’t help it.