Becoming Jenny Weatherall

I don’t even know where this story where it begins, so I guess I’ll start somewhere else and see where it takes me.

I was always the sort of girl that would dream about things like weddings. It wasn’t my only dream, I mean, I wasn’t obsessed like some romcom movie character from the early 2000’s… but I definitely knew I wanted a romantic wedding of my own one day.

What girl hasn’t dreamt of wearing a beautiful dress and walking down the isle to marry their best friend?

Well, one day came early in life for me. It’s been forever since I was married and divorced but it’s also been forever since I took on his last name.

If you know me personally then you already know the details, I’m just laying the foundation, so bear with me.


My given name was Jennifer Hansen and that meant no middle name for me. I always wondered what my middle name would’ve been if I had one. I speculated a little bit with my parents a few times and I believe the census was Ann or something along those lines. You know, Jennifer Ann. Sounds about right. Anyways, my mom didn’t have a middle name either, I guess the idea is that when you marry you take on your husbands last name and you keep your maiden name as your middle name. That’s what my mom did. She set up the same for me. And, when I married I kept Hansen as my middle name, making my new legal name effectively Jennifer Hansen Stradling.

I guess I didn’t necessarily wish the same for my own daughter, so instead when it came time to give her a middle name I chose to carry on my mothers name. And that would be how I would honor the family instead.

Changing My Name


Now that Chris and I are getting married, it’s time to think about changing my name. I was very young when I married and divorced, and to change my name back seemed like so much work. Especially since I honestly figured I would be remarried in a few years and change my name again then. I never expected that all these years later I would still be a Stradling.

And, thinking about it now, I don’t know if I really know where my identity with my name starts and ends. I have children that carry the last name Stradling. I loved my in-laws. My ex-husband and I are on good terms. My last name has been Stradling for 24 years. More than half of my life.

As I write this and process my thoughts out loud I am interested in my own feelings on this topic. Because I don’t know how I feel. That’s why I like writing. And talking. Honestly, I love writing because as I express myself I realize things and I get to refine what I’ve written before I share it. Whereas, when I’m talking, I’m just thinking out loud and often times saying the wrong thing. It’s a design flaw but I’m working on it. Lol.

Anyways, I tried to take a step outside of myself and look at what really matters and why. And, at the end of the day, my name could be anything. I think this disassociation with my name has to do with many years of thinking that I would’ve been remarried, and since I’m not, what that really meant.

Maybe my relationship history and lack of marriage proposals made me settle on the fact that I was perhaps never going to be remarried, and that was okay. But what did that mean for my name?


It’s weird how in the “straight relationship” today men still essentially dictate if a couple gets married or not. Sure, the woman can ask, but there’s just really not a lot of representation around to support that as an option even. Either way, it didn’t occur to me. Maybe I had too many years of gender conditioning to even consider it myself.

I did get to the point where I considered changing my name for myself. But, to what? Back to Jennifer blank Hansen? At one point I decided, I’ll just be Jenny X.

Radical black activist Malcolm X

Image from NBC News
55 years later, ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ still inspires


Well, as you can see, I did not change my name to Jenny X and I’m still a Stradling. However, Chris and I are getting married in February (this month!) and now I really DO have to think about changing my name. I mean it was never really a question if I am becoming a Weatherall. Our son is and clearly I’m not going to keep my ex-husband’s name once I’m remarried. (that would be super weird) However, the discussions we have had around this name change have been hilarious!

Because my name has been Stradling for so long it’s literally on everything I own and everything I’ve ever done online. The name is a part of my personal brand identity. Sometimes when that gets brought up sometimes people suggest a hyphenated version.

Yeah, I’m not going to keep my ex-husband’s name once I’m remarried. I mean, that was not the plan guys. Besides, who wants to sign paperwork Jennifer Hansen Stradling-Weatherall? I feel like I’m Elizabeth Taylor or something.

Liz Taylor

Image via: History Daily
Elizabeth Taylor’s Husbands: The Many Men Of The Queen Of Divorce


Now here we are, almost married, and I will be changing my name to Jennifer Hansen Weatherall. Chris, Camden, and I will have the same last name. So cool. I know I’ll never share a name with all of my kids but somehow I’ve made sure that their names still have a way to connect us. I tried to anyways.

Even though Chris and I have been together for (almost) 12 years now this marriage still symbolizes the start of something new. I know, I know. Some of you are thinking, “marriage is just a certificate” and all that. Trust me, I know. I get it. I hear what you’re thinking. And, maybe things will stay the same.

Maybe I’m fine with that!

But, some things will definitely change.

Like my name. 

And, maybe that change is more significant than I thought?

Chris and Jenny Weatherall Engagement Photos
Chris and Jenny Weatherall Engagement Photo
Jenny Weatherall Consulting Logo