Like many other bloggers, I think about issues of identity and self-image pretty often. My primary identity has changed over the years. I plan to discuss my time as a student and my thoughts about motherhood and identity in the future. Today, I'd like to talk about my given name: Jennifer.
It was a twist of fate that led my parents to name me Jennifer. My father wasn't sure about the name my mother had picked (he came aroundn to it four years later when my sister was born), and somehow they settled on Jennifer. I was born in 1970, the start of the height of Jennifer's popularity among the American baby-naming public.
While my mother liked Jennifer, she was vehemently against Jenny, and I swear I remember being instructed not to let anyone call me Jenny. My family and friends used Jennifer or Jen, and sometimes silly things like my dad's made up Furry-nej, and my aunt's Jammer. I took my mother's lessons to heart and have never been called Jenny. Oh wait, there was a boy in first grade who tried to call me Jenny. I told him that my name was Jennifer and to please call me that. When he wouldn't listen, I told the teacher. I was stunned at her indifference. She told me it was an acceptable nickname for Jennifer and that it was too bad if I didn't like it. I was aghast- I am Jennifer!
I'm sure I always had at least one other Jennifer in my class, and many times more than that. In third or fourth grade there were three of us, and two of us were Jennifer M. At that point we had to use our full last names. And so my identity shifted, I became, in my mind, "Jennifer M_____."
When I got married I never seriously considered changing my last name. Yes, for feminist reasons, but even more that I'd been called Jennifer M____ for so long that it is just who I am. I can't imagine being Jennifer E. I don't know her. I did toy with changing my name after my son was born--I wanted us all to clearly be the same family. As time passed though, and my husband asked if I was still considering it, I realized the answer was no, and that I needed to stay Jennifer M.
I am Jennifer. Hear me roar.
This post is dedicated to the NaBloPoMo group "The Circle of Jens," 91 members and counting.