Now that my divorce is final, I decided to change my last name back to my maiden name. I hadn’t initially planned on it, and I knew my kids, who are just four and six, weren’t happy with the idea.
“But if you have a different last name than us, will you still be our mommy?” My six-year-old broke into tears.
I assured him that he would always be my son and I would always be his mommy and just because we don’t share the same last name doesn’t mean we still aren’t a family.
The truth is, I had my doubts about it, too. I’d been Dym for 10 years. My kids were Dyms. All my writing bylines were Dym. My friends know me as Dym. Plus, changing all my documents would surely be a pain in the butt. Didn’t I already have enough to do without worrying about everything from my driver’s licence to my passport and email address? And I still hadn’t decided: would changing my last name back to Silver be a step forward or a step backward? Would it really help me erase the person I was and the memories I had when I was married? Is that even what I wanted to do? I still don’t have the answers.
Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago I reached a point where I just felt ready. I knew instinctively what I had to do. I gathered my documents—birth certificate, divorce certificate and passport—and went to a local Service Ontario location. There I was able to change my licence, vehicle registration (bring your vehicle information!) and health card. This process might vary from province to province, but once you’ve changed your licence you’re set to start on things like credit cards, bank accounts, bills and so on. All of these places have asked for various types of proof of identification, and I am still in the process of accommodating each organization’s requirements.
I can tell you that the first time I signed my new/old name—Erin Silver—my hand shook. I was unsure of myself and was cautious. When my new credit card arrived and the envelope was addressed to Erin Silver, I did a double take. It was all so strange yet familiar. My email and social media accounts have been trickier to change and I find I’m still going by Dym for email but Silver for Facebook.
I realized that it’s going to be a slow process, not only to change my name in the physical sense, but also emotionally. I haven’t told my kids yet, but I am hoping that once they see how much I still love them, they will realize that my licence is just a card in my wallet. In so many ways, a name is just a name, but somehow, this name change meant something to me.