MamaBlogger365 – The Set of the Sails by Patti Ashley, Ph.D.

“We all choose what we wish to be. No one impels us or compels us. The same wind that can blow a ship onto the rocks can blow it into safe water. It is not the wind; it is the set of the sails.”

The Set of the Sails

Lori, a thirty-nine year old mother of three children ages sixteen, eleven and six, shared the above quote with me, which she paraphrased from the book Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell. Lori believes that it is extremely important to teach her children how to take responsibility for their lives. She wants her children to know they are “captain of their ship.”

I agree with Lori in that we should certainly encourage our children to take control of the sails and not be victims or become entitled young adults. However, first and foremost, mothers have to take control of their own lives. Women often fall silent when advocating for social change in relationship to mothering. They consequently internalize and blame themselves, rather than saying enough is enough or too much is simply too much. They continue on relentlessly in tasks that go beyond even the “super mother” status, and they simply don’t know how to stop.

I have seen the difficulties that many mothers face whether they choose to work outside of the home, or to be full-time homemakers. Unfortunately we have created an economy where many mothers have to work, as well as a climate that does not value the work of stay-at-home moms. The challenge of women “having it all” is creating tired, burnt-out mothers that don’t feel good about themselves and therefore are not able to take control of the sails.

I believe that women should be able to choose whether or not they want to work outside of the home, but I do not believe that we have done a very good job making the required changes necessary to make either option work optimally for families.

There are many ways to advocate for public policies that support healthier families. You can always write letters to your local representatives and/or join a group such as Mothers Ought to Have Equal Rights (MOTHERS,) Moms Rising, or any other advocacy group. An online search should give you some suggestions of local organizations. I also am very excited about the opening of the Museum of Motherhood (MOM) in Manhattan this September. What a great way to honor the work of mothers!

As women take control of their sails, they teach their children how to be captain of their own ship as well. In this age of rapid change, women need to have a voice of social change and advocacy. In the words of Mother Teresa: “Few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.”

Mothering Beyond Image helps women connect more deeply to themselves and others, therefore feeling more authentic, mindful and whole. I will be presenting the five main themes from the soon-to-be-released book in a weekend workshop in Boulder, Colorado on October 7 & 8, 2011. For more information, or to register for the weekend, please visit I also will be offering this workshop again on March 9 & 10, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Please sign up to be on my mailing list to stay updated on workshop information. Mothers always want to know whether or not they are doing a good job. This workshop will help you know that you ARE!

Support MamaBlogger365 and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011! Your tax-deductible donation in ANY amount will help us make our September POP-UP exhibit in NYC a permanent reality – visit our Members page to learn more.

Model Boat 360 by Vince Mig

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