Want to hear Toby’s full name?

…Tobias Paul Goddard-Williams. Yup, a big name for a little dude. :)

When Alex and I got married, I kept my last name (Goddard), and Alex’s last name is Williams. So, when I was pregnant, we talked it over and decided we would give our baby both of our last names: Goddard-Williams.

We had three reasons: a) We wanted Toby to feel like an official part of both our extended families, b) We wanted him to be clearly connected to both of us, which would be helpful when I picked him up from school or we’re introduced to people as a family, and c) It sounded sound sort of cool! :)

Alex also laments that his full name–Alex Williams–is very common. Did you know that Williams is the third most common last name in America, behind Smith and Johnson? (Alex googled it!) He always wishes he had a more unforgettable name, since, as a writer, you want a splashy name that people will remember. (Think: Roald Dahl, Virginia Woolf, Jennifer 8. Lee!) So, he figured, Toby Goddard-Williams might be more memorable than Toby Williams.

As we were signing the birth certificate at the hospital, I suddenly got cold feet and wondered if the name was too long. But Alex convinced me to try it out for a year and see what I thought–and now that Toby is a year and a half, I love it and I’m glad we did.

Many of our friends and relatives still give us sideways looks: Really? Goddard-Williams? What a mouthful! Hyphenating a child’s last name is still a pretty rare thing to do. I just hope Toby likes it. :)

This past Thursday, the New York Times featured a fascinating article about hyphenated names. Here are a few fun facts:
1. Some couples combine their last names into a brand new name. In fact, my high school friend Geoff combined his last name (Werner-Allen) with his fiance’s last name (Chapman), so now they both have the new name Challen!
2. Experts predict that “the importance of a family name could begin to decline. Thanks to more divorce, re-marriage, same-sex unions and retention of maiden names, it’s far from unusual for members of the same nuclear family to bear different surnames.”
3. According to a recent study, “only 6 percent of native-born American married women have unconventional last names (meaning they kept their maiden names, hyphenated with their husbands’ names or pulled a Hillary Rodham Clinton).” That seemed surprisingly low to me!
4. If you’re American, hyphenated names can “say something extra about your parents’ egalitarian values. Unless you are British; then it means you’re posh.” (Well, la di da! :) I didn’t know until reading this article…and then seeing this English comedy skit.)

I’m dying to know what you think: Would you (or did you) change your last name when you get married? Would you keep your maiden name? What’s your full name? Would you ever consider hyphenating your baby’s last name–or no way? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear!

P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts, including an addictive baby name website.

(Photos by J. Crew and René Maltête)