When columnist Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck told me long, hyphenated names was the subject of the dual columns she and her son, Jacob, authored this month, I was immediately intrigued.

I’ve been challenged by a long, multi-syllabic name for my entire life and I was intrigued to get her take on this sometimes burden.

Early in my life, people attempted to drop Angela much to the displeasure of my parents. They taught me early on to correct people who tried to refer to me as Mary – instructing me to let them know the name is Maryangela.

Believe me, I was never comfortable with this, and willingly would have answered to anything I was called, but my parents were pretty insistent.

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the name and its uniqueness, as well as the fact that it honors a grandmother on each side, but when my husband and I chose names for our daughters, I was determined to select names with less than 10 letters and five syllables!

Hence, Marisa (Ma–ree-sa), Chiana (Key-ahn-a) and Alicia (A-lee-sea-a).

My last name has also added to the mouthful of letters. I married my husband, Eddie, a few years after I started working at the Catholic Herald and while legally I took his last name, Román, as my name, I kept my maiden name, Layman, as part of my byline, thus creating the litany, Maryangela Layman Román.

As Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck writes in her column on Page 4, at the time, the long name seemed like a good idea. I felt I had created an identity for myself at the paper and didn’t want to lose that by changing my name – so I just added to it.

In hindsight, I’m not sure I would do the same again. For example, my email address has 23 letters and when my name is alphabetized, I may appear under the Ls or the Rs.

As if the 21 letters in the name are not challenging enough, the name is a curious one for someone whose work is associated with the church. More than one person has asked me whether the name is real or is it made up to fit the work I do as a layman in the Roman Catholic Church. Or how about the many times, people have mistakenly referred to me as Sr. Maryangela, thinking a name like that must belong to a professed religious.

Yes, names can be a challenge, but as Annemarie and Jacob explain, they also identify who we are and define our relationships with others, something that makes us uniquely ourselves, and something to be treasured.

Don’t miss their humorous take on living with a hyphenated name. You might be surprised that even though they share the same name, their views on hyphenation are slightly different.

Also this month, meet an Ivy League-educated mother of 10 who offers interesting insights on raising children over three decades! After years of experience and frequent parenting questions posed to her by friends and strangers alike, Chicago author, Donna Baer, incorporated her advice and wisdom into, “Strong Happy Family: Unexpected Advice from an Ivy League Mom of Ten.”

Reporter Karen Mahoney interviewed Baer and in her story on Pages 8 and 9, learned some practical tips for parents of families of any size. Not surprisingly, one key ingredient to their successful family life is a faith life!

Another don’t miss feature this month, “You’re not my friend today … but tomorrow looks good,” written by preschool teacher, Michele Campbell, on Page 11, likely has you pulled in with the title alone. Campbell falls back on her experience as a mother and teacher of 3-and 4-year-olds to offer insight into preschool friendships, likening them to the variety of shoes in a closet. Maybe today you’ll choose the stiletto heels, while tomorrow might be a Converse day.

This edition of Catholic Herald Family will be our last before we take a summer hiatus.

In the meantime, be sure to take your camera with you on family outings as we’re again looking for Catholic family life photos to grace the covers of some of our issues next school year. See photo contest details on Page 7!

Enjoy a safe, faith-filled summer with your family and we’ll return in September with more of the inspiring, informative Catholic content you’ve come to expect from Catholic Herald Family.