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By Nicole Smithson

Across the country, from Maryland to California are 12 Madonna’s of the Trail. These are identical statues of a woman holding a child in one arm, carrying a rifle in another hand, and a toddler child clinging to her dress. These statues are located along a trail for pioneers to travel west. When I see these statues, I think of all the women who walked this path, and the hardships they went through. As the statues depict, these women guided and protected their children along a difficult trail. In this, I see pieces of myself – raising my babies through difficult life journeys and emotional hardships. Like the pioneer mother, choosing to wade through life’s trials and joys, all while breathing life into the world and raising children.

The Madonnas symbolize well what women have done through the ages. These women who walked along the pioneer trail persevered through many trials and insecurities of life. All while holding their babies in their arms. That is how much they valued human life and the family. These mothers were not guaranteed anything in their lives, and neither are we. We choose to accept life on its terms, even though things are tough. Babies are a brave response to hardship for they bring purpose and joy to our lives.

Raising my children often generated feelings of uncertainty, fear, and many difficulties alongside many joys. I had no idea how to keep a teeny, tiny baby alive. I had no idea what I was doing as these little people looked to me for their everything. I had no idea how my children would turn out. I imagine there were nights when pioneer mothers wept while traveling west. How often did they get angry or sad as they walked for miles on end, without enough food for their family?

Mothers today may not walk the plains as the pioneer women did, but we do walk the same ground. We sacrifice for our children.  We value the lives entrusted to our care. We nurture and guard human connection and love of family. We accept the terms of life, as they come.

Women are strong. We have literally born the souls of mankind, and yet women today claim the right to take the life of an unborn baby. According to the CDC, in 2018 for every 1000 live births, there were 189 abortions with a total of over 600,000 abortions in the United States for 2018. When I think of how many babies were aborted in just one year, I think back to the Madonna’s on the Trail, and I think of you and me. When did we lose the desire to bring our babies with us as we pursued our future? How much of human compassion and human strength is withered away by our devaluing of human life.

Choose life. Choose the courage of the Madonna’s of the Trail. Choose to value human life and the challenges that come with it. Mothers, and fathers, need those children on the journey through life. Babies make life good – if we are courageous enough to see it.


Nicki Smithson is a native of Arizona. She is passionate about using one’s voice in positive ways. She loves learning, puzzles, and all things houseplants and tries to fit this around a busy schedule with a pretty cool husband, 7 amazing kids-including a fabulous daughter in-law. 

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