My kids' middle names are places my husband and I have loved. I didn't want to name them after people.

Katrina Donham with her husband and older daughter at West Mountain Shelter in Harriman State Park
Katrina Donham with her husband and older daughter at West Mountain Shelter in Harriman State Park in New York.Courtesy Katrina Donham
  • Choosing my kids' names was a difficult decision.

  • I wanted them to have middle names that would help them discover themselves and feel grounding.

  • In the end, my husband and I chose middle names that were places we loved and remembered fondly.

I gave birth to my first child — a daughter — in New York City in April of 2020, just after the start of the pandemic. Yes, the experience was terrifying, but almost as terrifying was deciding on her name.

I was fairly confident with the choice of her first name. But when it came to choosing a middle name for my first daughter (and later, for my second), I wanted to give myself time to think and to dream about my offspring's identity and legacy. Middle names are often viewed as the name of lesser importance, but I wanted my choices to be a gateway for both discovering and for remembering their center, or rather, the core of their being.

I wanted to choose something that reflected my love of mother nature and could also serve as a guidepost for my child. I also didn't want my daughter to feel that she had to live up to someone else's life or influence by naming her after another person. And I loved the idea of her having a physical place that she could go to and revisit throughout her life — even with her own children and grandchildren, someday — that she'd feel she had a personal stake in.

I thought about all the places I'd been

As I contemplated a middle name, I thought about the many beautiful places I had visited in my life, and narrowed it down to one special region of the United States: the Appalachian mountains. And then, I remembered this breathtaking hike that I had taken once in college at the Roan Mountain Balds in Tennessee.

The hike is a part of the Appalachian Trail and boasts awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In June, the rhododendron blooms attract folks from all over the country. The "roan," or reddish color of the mountaintops during this time of year, has been what many claim to be the origin of the mountain's namesake. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

"Roan" was the perfect choice for my first child — Roan Mountain held such a special place in my heart, and I knew that one day, it would hold a special place in her heart, too.

When I got pregnant again, the process started over

I had my second child just 21 months after my first, and again, while I was pregnant, we found ourselves in the tedious process of choosing yet another first and middle name. By this time, our family had relocated from New York City to Asheville, North Carolina.

We'd traded our 500-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Queens for an old home that was double the size of our previous, surrounded by all shades of natural green. I don't take for granted the fact that I can step right outside onto the front porch and inhale crisp mountain air; even three years later, it still hasn't gotten old.

However, despite our decision being the right one for our family, my husband and I started to find ourselves grieving our pre-kid, city life. We missed weekends spent leisurely walking in parks throughout the metropolis, sipping fancy coffees, and finishing the night eating out and drinking at restaurants that served up cuisines and cocktails from all over the world.

We had spent six years posing as city slickers, but whenever we needed a break, we pressed pause and retreated up the Metro-North. Just an hour or so on the train and we were in a whole different world, hiking and recharging. Without a doubt, the Hudson River Valley quickly became one of our homes-away-from-home — another special place in our book of life.

And so, as the clock ticked during the third trimester of my second pregnancy and the panic of choosing a first and middle name commenced, my husband offered the possibility of "Hudson" as our second child's middle name, and without any hesitation, I agreed. It was perfect, and when we were surprised with a second daughter, it fit her well.

I hope that my girls will delight in, not only the sounds of their names, but the pieces of their mother and father that reside within them — that make up who they are as people on this wondrous earth. By selecting these names, our hope is that our children will visit and re-visit these places and fondly remember the memories and stories told by us, their parents.

We also hope to bestow our love of nature as well as the lesson that it is constantly teaching us: that it is constant, and life is variable. We want them to appreciate the beauty and joy that life offers even in its most fleeting moments. A sure-fire way we can do that is by immersing ourselves in nature.

If our children do so, in return, they will be afforded a fuller life — one that is not perfect but is worth living, and that, I believe, is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our kids.

Read the original article on Business Insider