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The hell that is the hyphen

I have always been the person that does things my own way.  I usually try to think of all of the consequences of my decisions before I dive right in but, obviously, that is not always the case.  However, major life decisions get significant review and consideration before I bite the bullet.

So, when Matt and I got married five years ago, we discussed (at length) my desire to keep my last name.  [I suggested the idea that we both change our names to something new and exciting.  Matt was not amused.] 506b3086d9127e30da001765._w.225_h.225_s.fit_

I never liked the idea that I was expected to change my name.  Plus, I have always loved my name.  It fits me.  Matt, forever avoiding the uncomfortable and confrontational, never really said much else about it.  It was never really an issue.  After all, we had already been together for 10 years, owned a house together, and had shared bank accounts.  The only time I ever really even remembered that we had different last names was when someone got it wrong.

However, when it came time to decide what last name our baby would have, sh*t got real.  My amazingly sweet, funny, and laid back husband put up one hell of a fight.  Since that doesn’t happen often, I really did entertain all of the possible options (my last name, his last name, combo last name, and hyphenated last name).  We talked about it from top to bottom, inside and out.

Finally, when I was about 8 months pregnant, I waddled into my mentor’s office and sobbed.  I had never had so much trouble making a decision before, I was giant and full of hormones, and I needed to make sure that I made the right choice.

I finally figured out the right choice when I thought about 10 years down the road, having to pick him up from school, and some random secretary thinking that I was his dad’s girlfriend or the step-mom.  Decision made.  Noah’s last name was getting hyphenated.

Matt assured me that he understood (although I knew he was lying) and, the day after Noah was born, we signed the paperwork with a hyphenated last name.  Decision made; problem solved.  [Boy, was I naïve.]

In the past three years, I cannot even begin to count the number of times people have screwed up his name, alphabetized him incorrectly, argued with me about what his name really should be, and/or looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  I have had issues picking up his medicine at the pharmacy, registering him for activities, and getting the right information when I need to call the doctor about something for him.  The first couple of years, it got on my nerves.  In the last few months, as he is getting more involved in different things throughout the community, it is just down right driving me crazy.

So, as Matt is preparing to start a new job and Noah and I will need to rearrange our health insurance options, I decided that, enough is enough.  It is time to change Noah’s last name (which also means changing my last name- the fear about the school secretary is burned into my brain).

Changing my name was, quite possibly, the easiest thing I have ever done.  I walked in to the social security office, waited for less than 10 minutes (and there was a very nice police officer who really loved his job and was very helpful and pleasant).  I met with one of the employees there, gave him my marriage license and, boom, name changed.  I don’t even think I had to sign anything.  It was just done.

[Side note: in talking with other women and friends, everyone seemed to be very nonchalant about changing a major piece of their identity.  When it was so easy at the social security office, I had a moment where I wanted to yell at someone, “Seriously!?  This is my name.  This is a big deal to me!  Why is this so easy?”wpid-img_20141120_073838678.jpg

Well, I am glad I didn’t shout that because, as the universe loves to do so often, changing Noah’s name has been one of the hardest and most complicated things I have ever tried to do.  After getting a different answer from each person I spoke with at the social security office, the vital records office, and the licensing office, I got a hold of someone at the clerk of courts.  She informed me that I needed to hire an attorney and have them draft a petition to change my son’s name because my county doesn’t have any forms that I can fill out.

My first thought, “That’s just silly.  I’m sure she’s wrong.”  My second thought, “Dammit!  She’s right.  I need to find an attorney.”  My last thought, “That’s stupid!  I have the internet.  I can write the petition my self.”  So I did.  And I thought it was pretty awesome.  I found statutes and examples.  Matt and I had the petition notarized and, off to the courthouse I went.  I was so proud of myself.

Then, the lady at the clerk of courts office handed my petition back to me, and smirked.

“Ma’am.  You’re missing a sworn statement that the applicant does not owe any back taxes or past due child support.  You’ll have to resubmit.”

“Seriously?!  He’s three!”

“I understand ma’am.  But the legislative representatives did not take minors into account when they wrote the statute.”

“Seriously!?  [expletive, expletive] Okay.  I will do it again.”

So, I rewrote the petition, Matt and I had it re-notarized, I went back downtown to the courthouse, I paid the $120 it costs to change a birth certificate, and she sent me on my way and told me to wait for her call me.

In the meantime, I went to the DMV to get my new driver’s license.  This shouldn’t be a big deal, right?  People do this all of the time.  Every woman that worked there had some little comment to say about why it took me so long to change my name.

For the first couple of comments, in typical “Callie” fashion, I made a joke about divorce rates and making sure he didn’t snore.  But, after a little while, I started to get angry.  I actually snapped at the lady who said, “I can’t believe your husband actually let you keep your name.”  What the hell, lady?!?

I get back to work, all bitter and fired-up, pull out the temporary license they give you while you wait on the real one to be mailed.  And, par for the course, they spelled my name wrong.  [expletive, expletive] I call the DMV, they tell me I have to come back tomorrow so they can redo the data entry and retake my picture.  He told me I would just get 2 IDs in the mail.

Finally, I get a call from the clerk of courts.  Noah’s paperwork is ready.  Now, I thought I would be able to take the paperwork to the vital records office, get a new birth certificate, and head over to the social security office.  Obviously, it turns out to not be so simple.  Now, I am waiting for the state capitol to legally recognize the name change and inform the vital records office.

Meanwhile, to make matters so much better, just guess how many times Matt has said, “I told you so.”

“My tummy hurts.”

Do you ever have those nights when you just have a gut feeling that you should go to bed early because the night might just be a little more than usual? Well, last night was one of those nights.

We put Noah down around 8:30pm (in his new toddler-bed, might I add). Matt and I discussed staying up and watching a movie or one of the many shows on the DVR that we haven’t gotten around to yet. But, finally, after finishing the dishes and putting a load of clothes in the dryer, decided we were just too tired and got in bed around 9:30pm.

At 11:30pm, I hear that sound come over the baby monitor that every mother knows. It is the shrill scream/cry that bellows “Come and get me right now! I don’t know exactly what is wrong but something is wrong with me!”

After assessing the situation, Matt decides he can handle it alone (he is the designated nighttime respondent after all) and I go back to sleep. About 30 minutes later, Matt screams up from downstairs, “I need a little help down here!”

I get down there to find my sobbing baby boy, completely non-responsive to any regular means of comforting, just moaning and groaning about his tummy-ache, just rubbing his belly and saying, in the saddest and most pitiful voice you can imagine, “It hurts, mommy. My tummy hurts so bad.”

Well, we tried everything. We got him ice cubes- it didn’t help. We got in the bath tub- it didn’t help. He asked me to hold him (except he says, “Mommy, I want to hold you” and it is the cutest thing in the world)- it didn’t help. We got into mommy and daddy’s bed- it didn’t help.

I finally offered to go back to his room and lay down in his bed with him until he could fall asleep. That seemed to sound like a good idea to him so we left Matt in the big bed and headed to Noah’s room. Keep in mind that it is now 2:30am.

When we get to his room, he asked me to sit on the floor first because he wanted to sit in my lap. (Whatever he wants at this point, right?) I get down on the floor, he looks me straight in the face, and just as he is opening his mouth to ask me a question, the vomit comes shooting out at, what seems like, lightning speed. Of course, I do the only instinctual thing that I know every mother does, I put my hands out in front of him, forming a “hand bucket” of sorts, and try to catch the vomit before it gets all over me.

Of course, my hands can only catch a fraction of the vomit. Also, I am screaming to Matt, “Get in here and bring towels- lots of towels!” The vomit- full of hot dog chunks, cream cheese and wheat thins, and blueberries- is everywhere. It is on my feet, all over my shirt, and somehow it made it like 6 feet across the room. It smells worse than any smell I have smelled in a very long time. And, within seconds, it is overflowing my “hand bucket” and spilling out onto the rug.

Then, hearing my calls of desperation, Matt shows up with the smallest hand towel I have ever seen. (Seriously!? A hand towel?!) He cleans up Noah and starts to wipe up the floor. All the while, I am sitting on the floor, hands full of vomit, unable to move for fear that the minute I try to stand up, I will spill the entire contents of my “hand bucket” onto the rug, even further tainting my baby’s room with that rancid hot dog vomit smell.

So I say in a very impatient voice, “Matt, help me!”

He realizes my predicament, wraps my hands up with a towel (only slightly larger than the first hand towel he brought in), and helps me up off of the floor. I walk down the hallway to the guest bathroom only to realize that the toilet seats are down, my hands, full of vomit, are wrapped tightly in a towel, and I have to figure out how to get the vomit from my “hand bucket” into the toilet without spilling it everywhere in the bathroom and without dumping the towel into the toilet (I did not want anyone to have to figure out how to clean that up later).

Being the incredibly flexible person that I am (please note the extreme sarcasm intended here), I lean far enough over to the side so that I can lift the toilet seats up with my feet, careful not to spill the vomit. I then shimmy the towel off of my hands into the bathroom sink, only spilling a few small chunks into the sink. Next, I shake my hands with a ferocity never seen before, getting every last chunk of vomit into the toilet, because all I want to do at this point is get as far away from the vomit as possible.

I scrub my hands about 6 times with every kind of soap I can get my hands on. I then jump in the shower and quickly scrub my legs and feet. I realize I can still smell the vomit on my hands so I scrub them with way too much hand sanitizer. I change my clothes, and go get Noah who is still very sad and pitiful and complaining about his tummy. Now he is also upset that he got his “carpet all messy.”

We go downstairs and curl up on the couch. We turn on Jake and the Neverland Pirates while he sucks his thumb and rubs his belly. Matt stays upstairs to scrub the carpet, Lysol the crap out of the room, and put everything into the washing machine (I can hear him gag several times because, trust me, this stuff was rank).

He looks directly at me, takes the latex gloves off, and says, “Next time, don’t scream for a towel. Tell me to get a bucket.”IMG_20140506_071730_526

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