Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;"
(Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2)

Last week, I went to babysit for a family in our church group.
As I was getting the kids into bed, the oldest asked me,
"Sister Pew, why is your last name Pew?"
I told her that it was because I married Brother Pew.
"So that wasn't always your name?"
"No, not always."
"Well, what was your name before?"
Seeing no harm in telling her, I responded.
"I like that a lot better than Pew. Shelley is pretty. Pew means stinky."
And she climbed into bed.

Suddenly I realized what Brad went through as a child.
And what our future children will have to go through.
And I chuckled a little to myself.
Adults don't question that your last name is Pew.
(Though I must put in a little aside that I jokingly feign offense when a family member 
crinkles their nose and says "pew!" to a foul smell).
Children latch on and make a joke.

But this whole little experience got me thinking about my process of becoming Kailei Pew.
I absolutely love being Kailei Pew.
I think it symbolizes my oneness with Brad. 
I think it shows that we belong to each other.
I felt a zing of love and pride the first time Brad called me Mrs. Pew right after we were married.
I wanted it and I chose it.

But let me tell you, I had a little bit of an identity crisis when I decided to change my name.
As much as I wanted to change it, as much as I felt right about it,
I suddenly wondered:
who was Kailei Pew?
I knew who Kailei Shelley was. I liked what she had done and accomplished.
I liked the things attached to her name. 
Goodness, for 18 and a half months, Shelley was the only name that defined me.

And for some reason, I didn't know what would happen to her when she became Kailei Pew.
I felt like I had to "make a name for myself" all over again.
And then we moved to Utah, and no one even knew Kailei Shelley.
Only Kailei Pew.
And I really felt a little lost.
It took a good six months for me to finally realize.
I was still me.
A name doesn't make me who I am.
I didn't have to build and entire new identity.
I hadn't changed,
just entered a new phase of life.
And I was proud of being Kailei Pew.
I will never fully leave Shelley behind.
It's as much a part of me as Pew is, and I am proud of my Shelley roots.
But my identity crisis is over.
Kailei Pew sounds pretty natural now.
It's finally the first thing I sign, without starting into the She--
And I love it now even more than I did the first time Brad called me Mrs. Pew.

So thanks, Shakespeare.
Just like the rose, I think I'm just as sweet.
Even with a "stinky" last name.


  1. Kailei thank you so much for sharing this! I have been putting the breaks on a relationship with this wonderful guy because I know eventually it would lead to marriage and then changing my last name. I was scared of losing my "identity" but as you so eloquently put it, its just the start of something new and great.

    1. Megan, I am so glad that you enjoyed it! It really feels for a bit that you are losing yourself, but I have come to find that it is really just becoming even more than you were before... and you will never lose any part of yourself. I hope things go well for you and this amazing guy! If he's a keeper, don't let him get away.


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