Motherhood through the Ages

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“Motherhood through the Ages,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 8–11

Motherhood through the Ages

The timeless nature and joy of motherhood are captured below in the words of one Latter-day Saint mother. In the artwork above and on the following pages, artists expand the message from mother and infant to families.

It was twilight as I sat down in the nursery with our baby in my arms. I felt exhausted. One day seemed to blend into the next in a never-ending round of feeding and sleeping, feeding and sleeping. Twilight, however, was my favorite time of day as I rocked and nursed our baby in the semidarkened room. It was a welcome interval of peace and a time to rest from the hurries of the day.

As I hummed and rocked, I looked down at tiny hands tightly grasping my finger and then into our baby’s face with his endearing toothless grin. As my son gave a small sigh of satisfaction, I wondered how many mothers of the 1800s, 1700s, or even the 1600s had looked upon a similar scene. I felt a great bond of sisterhood that night—something I had never experienced before. I realized that I was simply one more link in the long chain of motherhood. I felt as if these mothers of the past—thousands upon thousands of them—had united together and were waiting to buoy me up. Motherhood took on a new meaning for me that night.

As I gently laid my now-sleeping son in bed, I could almost see the hands of the past beside mine as I carefully pulled up the quilt, smoothed my son’s soft head, and bestowed one last goodnight kiss. I shut the nursery door behind me with a silent prayer of thanks for my newfound source of strength—my realization of motherhood throughout the ages.—Cheryl Avery, Dubuque Ward, Davenport Iowa Stake

Nancy and Kaedon

Two Latter-day Saint artists capture the intimacy of the loving relationship that exists between mother and infant. Above: Nancy and Kaedon, by William Whitaker. (Courtesy Blake and Nancy Roney.)

Encircling Love

Encircling Love, by Sheri Lynn Boyer Doty.

A Father’s Gift

In A Father’s Gift, artist Liz Lemon Swindle captures this private moment in the lives of Joseph and Emma Smith as they snuggle with the newly adopted Murdock twins. Both Emma Smith and Julia Murdock gave birth to twins on 30 April 1831, but Emma’s twins died, as did Julia Murdock. The father, John Murdock, gave his twins to the Smiths to adopt.

Large Horse, Small Rider

The unique style of Brian Kershisnik portrays the vulnerability of the family and the need for family unity in his painting Large Horse, Small Rider.


Jeanne Lundberg Clarke uses color and pattern to create a vibrant representation of a solid family unit in Inheritance.

Family Circle

California artist Keith Mallett honors the family unit in the print Family Circle, which hangs in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.