I was blessed to have two extraordinary grandmothers. One, 4 foot 8, fiery, optimistic and full of faith, she immigrated from Columbia to New Orleans with 3 young children at the age of 25. The other had 10 children by the age of 30, yet somehow managed to become a successful lobbyist in Washington, DC, and a great political leader in Louisiana, running several campaigns, becoming President of the New Orleans school board, and eventually earning an honorary Doctorate from Loyola University (alongside Harry Connick Jr. I might add). Both of my grandmothers were always hard-working, charitable, sunny and bright (despite life's hardships), and especially valiant.
Webster defines valiant as "possessing or acting with bravery or boldness; courageous; heroic." How must a woman be valiant today?
Not too long ago my American grandmother was asked to speak at an all-girls Catholic high school in New Orleans on Career Day. Knowing how successful she had been in her political career, I imagined she must have told the girls about her time at the Capitol, the different Presidents she had known, the organizations she had worked with (and even helped start) to better the city of New Orleans.
"So Maw Maw, what did you tell the students?" I asked her a few days after her speech.
She replied: "I told them that what the world needs most are wives and mothers."
I was shocked. Not because I didn't agree with her, but because after her long life and political career, this was the first time I had heard her articulate that nothing compared to motherhood.
"You can always go and have a career," she continued. "You will never get that time back to have and be with your children."
We need women in all areas of society and the work place, by all means. But where does our greatest strength as women lie? Where are we called to be most valiant? In loving those around us--particularly in our homes.
It takes a valiant woman to do her work well. To be a great doctor, or teacher, or politician. But it takes an even more valiant woman to love well. To give her life away to those closest to her. To love without counting the cost. To become a saint.
Mother Teresa said, "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... But how much love we put into that action."
I'm very grateful for my grandmothers. Grateful to witness how hard they worked. Even more grateful to witness how hard they loved.