What's in a name.

As I take care of my two daughters fighting some sort of a stomach bug, clean my house and finish another load of laundry, I keep thinking of how lucky I am to be their mom. Even though, whatever just happened to them will probably happen to me within a day or two.

Picking the name for both of them wasn’t very difficult. It could have been easier with my oldest one, just because as a first time parent, we thought about the right name from the very first moment we found out that we were expecting. With my second daughter we were more prepare for a boy then a girl, so it took us a second to agree on the name. Even in the hospital.

I’m Polish and in our culture we have a tradition of giving names after saints, sometimes after family members. Also each day of our yearly calendar has names and sometimes people pick the names off of the calendar depending on the day their child was born. That’s why we celebrate Names Day in Poland.

I wanted my kids to have names that would be easy to pronounce in Polish and in English, names with some sort of the tradition and possibly a saint watching over them. Malgorzata - this is my name - gives people a hard time to pronounce and always brings lots of questions. My name comes from Saint Margaret the Virgin, also known as Margaret of Antioch who has a patronage over me and other women – especially pregnant woman and childbirth as well.

The name of our first child is Pola, the shortened version Apolonia. It is an old Polish name and I always loved it. I knew only one little Pola in my life and it was the sister of a close friend of mine who I knew in elementary school, and she was very, VERY pretty.  There was also a well known Polish film actress- Pola Negri- who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles. My husband fell in love with the name mostly because it wasn’t popular in the States. Apolonia has a patronage over dentists and when having a tooth ache you should send a prayer to her.

Nella was our second child. We didn’t decide about her name until the very last minute. I remember holding her in my arms and asking my husband what would be a right name for that little peanut and what can possibly go well with Pola. Nella doesn’t have a saint watching over her. Her name is based on the character – Nel Rawlison- from a popular novel for children ‘In Desert and Wilderness’ ( Polish: ‘ W pustyni  i w puszczy’ ) by Polish author and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz. The story of the book takes place in 19th century Egypt. A 14-year-old Polish boy Stanisław (Staś) Tarkowski and 8-year-old English girl Nel Rawlison live with their families and grow up in the city of Port Said. Their fathers are engineers who supervise the maintenance of the Suez Canal. One day an anti-British rebellion begins in Sudan, led by a Muslim preacher Mahdi. Staś and Nel are captured as hostages by a group of Arabs who hope that they can exchange the children for Fatima, Mahdi's relative that had been arrested by the British at the beginning of the novel. The book follows their adventures in the Sahara Desert and as a young girl I loved reading it. Nel always seemed to me as very pretty and sweet. Although at the beginning of the novel she is kind of timid and shy, later on she shows that she can be courageous and stubborn. At that moment when we were in the hospital, no other name seemed better than Nella- our little firecracker.

 Pola Negri

Pola Negri