Sara Whitman

Mrs. Cowen-Whitman

Filed By Sara Whitman | June 20, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: marriage

For the first time today, I was called Mrs. Cowen-Whitman.

More than once.

It was the last day of school and the kids all wanted to go to Tom's Pizza. We went and as I stood in line to order, I heard a small voice.

Hey... Mrs... Mrs. Cowen-Whitman.

I turned. It was a friend of Ben's who I have known since he was a kindergartner.

Hey, sweetie, I said. I reached over and grabbed his shoulder. then finished ordering.

A few other kids said Hello. They all called me Mrs. Cowen-Whitman. It was a little strange. I'm used to Ben's mom. Zach's mom. Jake's mom. I'm used to a simple "hey."

For an institution mired in patriarchal privilege, I must say, marriage has its benefits. If nothing else, the younger generation sees me as just as married, just as boring, and just as deserving of respect as any heterosexual parent.

Mrs. Cowen-Whitman was a little strange.

But mostly? Nice.

Cross-posted from Suburban Lesbian Housewife


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


i REALLY enjoy the tiny gestures in life that stop you in your tracks. keeps you on your toes, and in this case, makes you smile and realize.

yeah for you mrs. cowen-whitman

Congratulations! And I also think it's nice that there's some formality left among children. You almost never hear "Mr." or "Ms." at all anymore.

Okay. I sound like an old fart. I'll own it. ;-)

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 20, 2008 7:43 PM

That is so cool!!

We are making progress!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 21, 2008 4:40 AM

Sara, did Ben organize this with his friends?

Was the "little darling" trying to freak mom out or see if he could?

Why is it I always look for the hidden agenda in something that should just be a nice moment? Is it because I have met children?, or is it because I am childish...

No, Robert, Ben had already left the place. I was there with my two younger kids and a friend of theirs.

For the most part, kids call parents by their first name. it's cute when they are little but when a sassy twelve year old comes up and calls you by your first name it makes you realize the power in Mrs. or Ms. or... anything but your first name.

you know, the religious nut cases can bang their drums and do all they can to make our lives miserable but they cannot stop the change.

it's already happening.

So why Cohen-Whitman instead of Whitman-Cohen? Is it for alphabet privilege?

Not judging, because I'm a recipient of a whole lot of alphabet privilege, and the only way I'm changing my last name is to one starting with an "A."

But I am interested how couples decide these things. Excuse me in advance if this question is too personal.

I always wonder that too, Alex. When Jerame and I were in Detroit and thought about getting married in Canada, we never did figure out whether we'd be Browning-Davis or Davis-Browning. I'm curious how you came to Cohen-Whitman too, Sara.

It doesn't have to be hyphenated either way. You could just pick one name and go with. Or keep your own names. It's been known to happen, even to straight people!

One of the good things about living the life you choose is you get to decide these things for yourselves, just as trans people get to choose our names.

My wife asked me, shortly after we'd started planning the big day, if I'd be hurt if she didn't take my last name. No problem, said I. So, we still have different last names, no hyphens. It really messes with telephone solicitors and such. Her mom suggested I take her last name, which I honestly considered, but declined. You know, it's a pain in the snout to change names on things when you own cars, property, a business, passport, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. Ultimately, we both agreed that we'd been signing our names the same ways for too many years and would screw up too many signatures if we tried to change - and the one thing we decided was to never try to change each other.

Bil, why don't you two consider being the Brovises, or the Davings, when you tie the knot? I'm surprised more people don't think about combining their names, rather than hyphenating them. I used to know a couple who did that.

Anyway, Congratulations Mrs. Cowen-Whitman!

Actually, Alex, it just sounded better. (and it's Cowen, as in moo, not Cohen)

we struggled with it when we decided to have kids. I never imagined taking Jeanine's name but I had at certain times thought of dropping "Whitman" which was my father's name and ... well... I didn't like the association very much.

but my mother always kept her married name and it made more of a connection to her than to him for me.

when I was pregnant the first time, we were discussing this with Jeanine's family and her sisters- who are ALWAYS willing to help- said why don't you combine your names...

and make it "Chitwow."

so, Ben, in utero, was referred to baby chitwow. then it was baby chitwow dos, with zachary, then baby chitwow tres, with jake. (jeanine is half mexican-american, thus the spanish)

Chitwow made us think hypens were good.

and Cowen-Whitman just sounded better. both sides of our family agreed- the whitman's and the cowen's.

ps. it is a total pain in the ass to change names and when we got married, we had just moved so the idea of going through the whole process again...

no way.

but the kids are Cowen-Whitman's and thus all their friends just assume we are too.

and we are.

someday? I'll even do the paperwork.

We can't agree on Browning-Davis or Davis-Browning He wants one and I want the other. We've just left them alone for now. :)

Davis-Browning. My kids- who are around a LOT of hyphenated names? all agree.

hands down.

I dunno. I like Browning-Davis.

But you could pick a third name instead for you both to use. It could project a new image, depending on the type of name you pick: Italian, Greek, English, Russian, Spanish, Irish, German, WASP, Korean, French, Jewish, Scottish, Hungarian, whatever. It could add to your mystique!