This is something I've been thinking about for years. I would like my children to have the same name as both of their parents, but I strongly resent the loss of the matrilineage that occurs when women give up their names generation after generation.

However, at the same time, it's only partially my name. It's actually my father's name. And I have no positive attachments to my father's name--quite the opposite. My middle name is the maiden name of my mother's beloved grandmother, though, so I am considering using either my mother's maiden name or my middle name.

I think hyphenated names are ugly and awkward, but taking on my fiance's name completely just symbolizes too much to me: I am not leaving my family and joining his. We are making a new family together.

The only good thing amidst the confusion is that the man who will almost certainly be my fiance is a wonderfully understanding person and feminist. If I choose to take a hyphenated name, he'll do the same thing. If I want to keep my current last name he'll be okay with that too. It's not that he's just amenable, either--I think he really understands some of why this is a difficult decision for me.

I can't see being entirely happy with any of the options, but that's almost the least of the confusing life questions for a woman (or any aware adult). In the science fiction novels I was going to write once upon a time, children took their "last name" as simply their parents' first names put together. If only it were that easy.