Yes, I chose to keep my ex-husband’s last name. 

I was married for 12 years, together for 15. We share 4 beautiful daughters together.

I was born a Jenkins in 1986. Jenkins is a name I do not associate with. It came from a man who chose drugs over his own daughter and was never a father to me. 

I was adopted a Hanshue sometime around 1994. It came from a man who wanted nothing to do with me after my mother and him divorced. Even after I left her home and was out on my own, he did not want a relationship with me for fear of having to deal with my mother. I just wasn’t worth the trouble.

Taghon is a family name I associate with. It’s the last name of the man I call “dad”. The only man willing and able to step up and take on the daunting task of being my father, my mentor and my comforter. Yet, I was never really a Taghon even if my stubbornness mirrors his. 

VanDonkelaar has been my family name for 12 years. Longer than any name I have ever had. It doesn’t have the greatest people attached to it, but what name really does… I mean the most powerful and wealthy man in America even has a grimace of distain when it comes across the tongue to some [Trump]. 

What exactly is in a name? 

I never shared a name with my mother for very long. My sisters and I didn’t share a name. I struggle with abandonment, trust and attachment issues that run deep inside me and far into my past. 

Having children birthed all from the same father was an accomplished goal I laid out for myself so that my children didn’t have to feel unwanted or that they didn’t belong. Set the bar low so you exceed the expectations of others right? 

I wanted to share a name with my children.

 I chose to give my eldest her father’s name even though we were not married because I had no other name to give her, not one of my own that belonged to just me, not one I proudly owned. Only one that was bestowed on me that was attached to the dollar amount set by friend of the court… my name came with a price that lined my mother’s pockets even after I moved out on my own… It was a name that brought fear and terror to my mind when I thought of the man who decided to bestow it to my sister and I. A man who felt mislead into adopting bastard daughters of deadbeats only to pay gravely until our graduation dates. A man who upon hearing of my teenage pregnancy raced down to the school to ensure I was still enrolled, not because he cared about my life or education but the dollar signs that could be dropped if I was no longer in high school… too bad for him I succeeded and finished school with a toddler in tow. No, that would not be the name I wanted to grow. 

So I married the man who gave me my name. Who gave me my daughter and so much more. The time we had together was not all bad even though the final chapters are tattered and grey our life wasn’t always that way. He gave me a family. He gave me my girls. At the end of the day I will always thank him for giving me them. 

They are my family. They are my life. They are my reason I strive and I fight. They are the only reason that has kept my light bright. They are my VDunk girls and for that I wear my name proud. Momma VDunk of four beautiful girls. He can’t take that away because it was a gift that was nonrefundable and will always be mine. It wasn’t his, this name is mine because it belongs to those gorgeous girls that make me so proud to be alive. 

I am not his wife but I am their mother.

Someday I may take a new name but nothing will change because no matter what happens in this life, for richer or poor I will always be momma VDunk to those beautiful four and that is who I am straight to my core. 

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