Before starting kindergarten, I learned how to spell my last name. For a 5-year-old, stringing together the letters S-C-H-W-E-I-G-E-R-T can be a challenge. So, my parents helped prepare me for the task. Incidentally, my dad also taught my siblings and I how to say the alphabet backward as well as forward before entering kindergarten, but that’s another story.
Throughout my school years, I routinely had to tell teachers and classmates how to spell and pronounce “Schweigert.” Of course, telemarketers often butcher the name, though they come up with some memorable attempts at pronouncing it.
Over the years, I received mail with creative spellings — Shwagger, Swigert, etc. I missed a flight once because an airline employee misspelled “Schweigert” when booking my ticket, so I wasn’t showing up as a passenger in their system.
Even though the name Schweigert came with a few headaches, I always was fond of it.
For a decade, I wrote hundreds of articles in the Powell Tribune that all started with the same three words: By Tessa Schweigert. As a writer, I grew attached to my byline. I stand by what I write in the newspaper, and I built a reputation in this community with my maiden name.
When I got married in October 2014, I wasn’t sure what to do with my name.
I couldn’t be happier to be married to CJ Baker, and I gladly took his last name. Still, I was hesitant to give up my byline in the Powell Tribune.
So, I kept signing articles as Schweigert, even though I legally changed my name to Baker two years ago.
For our first two years of marriage, I tried to use both. I had to remember which one to go by in different circumstances — I signed emails at work as Schweigert, but signed checks at the bank as Baker.
It became quite confusing, especially when introducing myself to people. I considered hyphenating, but Schweigert-Baker is just way too long. What a mouthful.
As our two-year wedding anniversary approached last fall, I started thinking it was time to change my byline in the Tribune. I wanted to be Mrs. Baker in every area of my life, as a writer and a wife.
Part of me still wanted to carry on the Schweigert name in some way, since my dad was the only son in his family and I only have one brother. However, around the time I was thinking about changing my last name in the Tribune, my brother and his wife announced they were having a baby boy — the first Schweigert baby in our family since I was born.
I made the decision to take on the Baker byline on the day my husband decided to become the editor of this newspaper. During a time of transition at the Tribune and in our lives, it seemed like the right moment to officially make the change.
Of course, if you call me Schweigert, I’ll still happily answer. It’s a name I will always be proud of — but I’m looking forward to the chapters in life I will write as Mrs. Baker.