After WEEKS of agonizing over it and asking a million people’s opinions about it (and getting a million different answers), I finally filled in the box on the form.
I took it to the Social Security office, and I became Elizabeth Parent McMillian. And just like that, all my anxiety about it went away. It is sad to let go of a name I love, a name I’ve never used, but a name that is special to me because it belonged to my grandmother. But legally or not, I will always be Elizabeth Claire. My name changed, but I didn’t. And while it’s weird right now because it’s new, I know that a year from now, it will just be my normal name, and I won’t think anything of it. And ten years from now, we might have a little Claire to carry the name on (maybe by then, Whitney will be ready for us to have children, and she’ll acknowledge little Claire’s existence – What say you, buddy?).
In the end, I decided that four names would just be too much, so I had to choose which one to let go of and which one to keep. Since everyone knows me as BethParent (yes, all one word run together like that), and most people didn’t even know my middle name, I decided to keep the one I felt was more strongly tied to my identity. I probably could have gone either way and been happy with my choice, but I just felt more comfortable keeping Parent, so that’s what I did.
Now I just have to get used to a new signature. That’s extra weird.