In case you missed it, here’s Liz’s latest from the July Newsletter.  Click here to subscribe (It’s really a once-a-month thing, we promise–maybe the occasional announcement, but nothing annoying.  If you’re a Gmail user, rescue it from your “Promotions” folder!)

The Avett Brothers are some of my favorite musicians on the planet. We own

Photo by Emily Rumsey

Photo by Emily Rumsey

every single album they’ve ever made, from the most obscure to the mainstream. Of all their albums, a little eight-song LP called The Second Gleam is by far my favorite, which includes a poignant song called “Murder in the City.” The song is all about family and within its incredible lyrics is a line that runs through my head on a daily basis, often bringing tears to my eyes…

“Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”

I hear this line, and I immediately think of Chris–my incredible husband, partner, and best friend, who has given me more, sacrificed more for me, and supported me more than I ever imagined possible. I am honored to share his name and all the fabulous things that have come our way since we made our vows over 11 years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have none of my most treasured things–my kids, my home, my work, or Enlightened Mama–without him.

I look at our children, and I see four of the happiest, sweetest, and most kind individuals around. While each of them is so unique in their likes, personalities, and eccentricities, they are a matched set of Abbenes. More and more I see how they, too, are identifying themselves with our shared name, autographing artwork, writing it over and over, and calling roll for one another, while playing “school.”

However, I wasn’t always an Abbene. For 23 years, I shared a name with a completely different crew. I was Naylor, along with my parents and 3 older siblings. As the years have passed, we have moved apart from one another, created new lives for ourselves, yet somehow have grown closer together, still bonded by our shared name.

Now let’s be real–sharing a name with someone, being part of a family–isn’t always easy. When I married into the Abbene family, I was also getting all its original members and vice versa for Chris. Both sides come with a whole slew of extended relatives, and thus potential for lots of joy, but a fair amount of friction and drama as well. This can often create hurt feelings, frustration, and downright anger.

However, within name-sharing dynamic, there is also huge potential for forgiveness, the ability to be a bigger person, and getting priorities straight, looking beyond personal feelings and doing what is right for the family as a whole. (And if you’re wondering, this is me, giving myself advice as I write.) Because ultimately, when it comes down to it, there really is nothing worth sharing like the love that lets you share a name with someone else.

With much gratitude, Liz (and the rest of my Abbenes)



An Apology…
To any of you who were offended by my recent post “The Sharing of a Name,” I deeply apologize. In response to some of you feeling as though this was all about changing your name via marriage, it was not meant to be. I certainly don’t feel connection comes from changing your name if you get married, and this post is not at all intended to be about whether or not you do that. I really don’t care whether people change their names, keep their names, blend them, hyphenate them, or make up a whole new one.  My intent was an exploration on the connectedness, relationships, and opportunities for personal growth that come when you are part of a family. 
The line in song goes, “Make sure my sister knows I loved her. Make sure my mother knows the same. Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” Regardless of marriage, divorce, or children, we all come from a family, and share a family name with someone, or have in the past. I understand that this can be a tender issue when a child doesn’t share a name with both parents or neither, but somewhere in that family, there are commonalities, ancestors, stories, and love, that are part of that shared name lineage.  When thinking about shared names, I also thinking about all of my family, meaning that by default, I’m also an Ostrander, Poradek, and Lily, along with a host of others.  Though none of these will show up in a background check of me, they’re still a part of who I am and I feel proud that I have shared names, in one way or another, with such incredible people.
When looking at marriage, took my husband’s name, and as I said before, took on a lot of drama, especially given the fact that his mother and I now really share a name–first and last.  I won’t elaborate on that except to say, that it has afforded me self-reflection, priority-setting, and the ability to forgive. However, Chris was the last male Abbene in his generation, the one in his family to carry on the name. When we got married, there was a small amount of pressure to produce a male child to carry on that name, (mostly, in good Catholic, Italian fun.) We went one for four in that department, producing only one masculine child. However, our reality is that, because of our children’s health condition, they will likely never marry, have children, or pass on the family name–the boy or the girls, (should have have chosen to keep their names in marriage, if that were an option.)  So, if I have a greater than is average pride for what is our shared little clan of Abbenes, with our shared name, perhaps that is why.  We are it, and it will likely not go beyond the generation we have now. 
My family–all sides and names–means a great deal to me. My post was not at all meant to be a judgement on any of yours, and I deeply apologize if it felt that way to any of you.
Thank you for your continued support for all of the work we do to support families of all types and names.
In gratitude, Liz Abbene