Many women decide that when they get married, they’re going to take their husband’s last name. And then, when you have kids, they automatically get assigned their last name, too. That’s just how it goes, right?

Actually, you have a choice. When it comes to names—even last names—it can be anything you want it to be. Really!

One woman named Mary Czudak decided that she wasn’t going to take her husband’s last name when they got married. And when they had kids in 2000? They decided to give them HER last name, instead of the assumed couple’s.

She recently shared with ScaryMommy her decision on why they chose that route instead of the traditional way—and how it ended up.

“I can report that our decision turned out to be a disaster,” she told them.” People have often assumed that my husband is the kids’ stepfather. Sometimes, when he would pick up the kids from an activity like summer day camp, staff would regard him with suspicion. And it’s been hardest of all on the kids. They have told us how self-conscious they feel, and wonder why they have to be different from everyone else.”

Oh, hmm…yeah, we can see that.

She then followed up with: “Just kidding! None of those things happened.”

Okay, now you have our attention.

She went on to explain that actually, no one really questioned the reason why she and her husband gave her kids her last name. But when she was making the decision to do so, she had heard through the grapevine of her family members that people weren’t super pleased about it because of those reasons.

When the babies were born, thankfully, people let it drop. And as time went on, people moved on. But besides those people, Mary says that, besides the occasional and well-intentioned question of “why?”, no one really bugs her about it.

So why DID they decide to give their kids Mom’s last name?

“It was an act of protest against millennia of tradition in which a father’s surname signaled his primary rights to the children, while mothers did the biological and practical work of parenthood,” Mary explained. “In a perfect world, neither partner’s last name would take precedence over the other. In the actual world, it’s almost always the father’s that gets chosen, so we chose mine to try to balance things out.”

If you have even more questions, Mary answers them all over on ScaryMommy. Check out her FAQ—you may learn a thing or two about surnames!

Do you know anyone whose kids took Mom’s last name instead of Dad’s? What do you think of Mary’s decision?