“Merry Christmas, Mr. White. And to you Mrs. White.”
A simple greeting from someone we’ve known a long time. But as she said, “Mrs. White” her face dropped & she stammered for a moment, apologizing as she leaned in to give me a hug. As if she had said something wrong. It’s a common reaction. People just don’t know what to call me sometimes. In her defense, we were standing in a Catholic church. The Kids had just served Christmas mass & The Ex & I were waiting for them to change out of their robes. Let’s face it… it’s not exactly the place to go when you want to be around people who are comfortable with your divorce.
I specifically kept my married name after the divorce. I did ask The Ex if it was okay. I mean, it was his name first & I guess I thought that maybe he wouldn’t want me to use it anymore. But it’s my kids’ name. And they were young enough at the time that I didn’t want to deal with schools & clubs & teams trying to sort out different last names.
I suppose it’s not the name so much as the “Mrs.” that throws people off. Whereas a man will always be called “Mr.” regardless of his marital status, a woman gains the title of “Mrs.” only when she’s married. So when she’s no longer married….? What then?
I can’t speak for every divorced woman. I’m sure there are those out there who would keep their married name then get offended at being called “Mrs.” – as if the most important thing for everyone on earth is to know what title they prefer. As for me, I feel like my last name came with the “Mrs.” so if that’s what you want to call me, feel free – especially if you met me when I was actually a Mrs.
Somehow, in my little mind, the title goes with the parenting of these two kids. “Mrs.” equates to “Mom.” I was Mrs. when these two cherubs came into being. It took Mr. & Mrs. to create them. It’s still a perfectly acceptable thing to call me.
If you feel more comfortable with “Ms.” that’s fine too. Want to go with a straight up “Miss”? Do it. (Although “Miss” implies youth & I actually get pissed when I’m asked for an ID. I mean, do a lot of 19-year-olds struggle with crows feet?) Or just use my first name. Or “Hey… The Girl’s Mom”! or “Yo – Boy’s Mom!” Whatever works.
So as she leaned in for the hug, apologizing for calling me “Mrs.” I said, “Lots of people still call me Mrs. White. Please don’t feel bad.”
Because believe me – whatever you call me… I’ve been called worse.