“A woman’s natural mission is to be where she’s most appreciated.”  Henry James “The Portrait of a Lady”

I recently reread PoaL for book club.  As it’s been about 30 years since I last opened this book, there were many things I did not remember (including how longggggg it actually is), and honestly, I didn’t even notice this particular quote on the reread, a fellow book clubber remarked on it, but I am so glad she did.

Powerful quote, right?

Written in 1881.

What do you think of this quote?

Apparently true in 1881.

Is it still true today?

I know.  I’ve given you a lot of questions.  I know.  I’m usually the talkative one.  What?  You want my opinion?  Ok.  I’ll try…

Sometimes, women undermine themselves.  Sometimes women want to be everything to everybody.  Sometimes women want it all.  Sometimes women want it all, at the same time.  Is it just an innate trait?  Are women just hardwired this way?

Personal anecdote.  My daughter is stressed out for what her high school refers to as “hell”.  Her teacher told them the other day “Remember Freshman year, when we read Dante?  Well, that was not hell.  The last eight weeks of Junior year- well, that’s hell.”  My Husband is stressed out at work- he’s a corporate tax accountant working for a large bank and trying to deal with tax reform.

Fun times at my house.

I try to emotionally support both of them.  I listen to them talk about the challenges they are both facing.  I give them practical advice as needed.  I help my daughter clean her room, and I pick up the slack of household things that my husband normally does.  Yes, it’s part of the pact you make when you sign up to be part of a family- you help each other as needed.

But do women do this more than men?  Would my Husband jump in if the roles were reversed?

But, lets get to the next part.  Am I doing these things because I want to help my family?  Or am I really looking for a thank you?  Am I looking for appreciation?

I know plenty of people who only do things because they want to be “owed”.  They’re looking for the quid quo pro.  My in-laws are like this:  they will say “Don’t forget I did X for you, so you have to do Y for me.”  I learned early on that I did not want to ask my MIL for help, because the attached strings were too much.  They were only around for the appreciation and adulation.

So, back to my original thought: Do women seek out situations where they can be appreciated?  Is this really the portrait of a lady?

Remember:  it’s write my blog Thursday….




41 thoughts on “Portrait of a Lady?

  1. Loved the author, book and this post. I’m always angry when someone ever says anything along the lines of “remember I did this for you, so…” It’s like WHAT? you have the audacity to actually say that. It should always be because someone wants to, but to then remind them, yikes… I’ll stop as this is a big pet peeve. And not the point of your question. Hmmm…. I think sometimes, yes, it’s important and natural, but it probably changes as confidence and experience change. IT’s not an always 24/7 thing… just when it may need to happen on occasion. But I’m not a woman, so I wouldn’t know 😛

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great thoughtful comment…as always….but you can’t help but think about the tit for tat thing…it’s a natural mind jump when talking about appreciation…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it is nice to be appreciated but I am as guilty as the next person of not seeing the nice things someone does: for example, my husband does pick up the slack now that he is home more than me and I appreciate it. He also understands some of the difficulties I am going through because he has been there. I really appreciate any time I have at home to be alone and appreciate my house and my sanity!! I appreciate anyone who can respect his and give me this sometimes!! Enjoy the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And I try not to make people notice all I do as I have a tendency to want to be noticed or appreciated but I have discovered that others have the same tendency although they protest!I am supportive and would love everyone to be supportive all the time around me. That is probably not going to happen.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Sunshine is good about asking if he can help when he notices that I’m a bit overwhelmed. Often, I tell him I could use the help, but then when he asks me what he can do, I have to honestly answer “I don’t know” because TV loving is tiny so there isn’t much space for one to work, much less 2. So we generally share a laugh, and just knowing he’s willing to help works to help me overcome those overwhelmed feelings. I think I might have wound up where I am most appreciated LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry, I tuned out right after “A women’s natural mission…” I too have PoaL on my shelf, still waiting to be read. I am sadly quite aware of the era in which this book was written and now feel assured that I must prepare to steadfastly find my way to maneauver through the quaint ideal of “a woman’s place and purpose” in life…
    Please tell me it Is Not still true today, but I also believe that gender ideals remain and whether we do what we do simply because it needs to be done, or we are seeking some sort of recognition for it really doesn’t matter. Females are still labeled and thought to act in specific ways, as are males. For the foreseeable future many will still be unconvinced that sex (biological anatomy) and gender (assigned social roles) are two very different things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am interested in your thoughts when you read it. I admit…it was tougher getting through it this time. Boy is he verbose…..but it goes back to the whole nature/nurture question….what is ingrained v what is learned. I’m beginning to think that we undervalue the nature/nurture question…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is really the absolute wrong week to talk to me about this topic. I am or feel like I am the after-thought pretty much every day this week so far.

    But the quote inspires me. I will hold on to it. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My husband has told me that even women who work full time do a larger share of the housework. I can’t remember his point at the time; probably had something to do with me asking why he doesn’t seem to notice or feel like chipping in.
    So, I think you’re right. Maybe. In part. Frankly, I feel highly UNDERappreciated at home so why am I sticking around? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sorry this question is like canoodling wth a buzzsaw, just as bad as when a lady asks if an article of clothing makes her look fat?
    Nothing makes any woman look fat either. More chocolate dear?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Sometimes women undermine themselves. Sometimes women want to be everything to everybody.” That is this woman, although I am not doing it to get appreciated because I don’t expect anyone to say thank you, I do it because I believe it is my job. It is only in the last 5 years or so, since the kids are all grown, that I have begun to think that maybe I don’t have to do it all! I am not resentful, either, it is more like an evolutional thing. I don’t need to be superwoman and it’s okay if someone else wants to do the dishes or the laundry and they don’t have to do those things the way I do them. (I do go and rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher though to maximize space – LOL). Perhaps my feeling this way was from that nurture thing since my mom was very old fashioned and felt that the order of things was wife, mother and as an afterthought, self so that is what she taught and that is what I saw.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to get our mothers out if our heads. One time my mother was over, and my husband came over with a colleague. My mother chastised me because I didn’t offer the colleague coffee because I was the “lady of the house”. I told her my husband was the “man of the house” and he was capable of offering and making coffee (he really isn’t but I needed to say something)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. If I do a good job, I like to be acknowledged. Some people crave it more than others. I guess that’s makes the world go ’round. I’m certainly less inclined to want to do something if my efforts are completely ignored. Who wants to do things for unappreciative people? Sometimes a simple thank you or acknowledgement is all people want. I try to tell people when they’ve done a good job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think acknowledgement is great (except when my husband expects me to thank him fir unloading the dishwasher) but it’s more about doing something because we feel we need to

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think some women do, and some don’t … just as I think some men do and some don’t. Wow, I can’t believe your daughter only (at least “only” to me) has eight weeks left of junior year – because I remember yesterday when she was starting her junior year!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! But I do love men. I read somewhere that men and women actually do the same amount of work but they work differently. Men in strenuous spurts and women consistently moving along.

        My husband fixes multi-million dollar computer chip machines. Every move he makes could lead to mass destruction. I admire his ability to work while being constantly under fire . I hope he doesn’t die of a heart attack!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I never thought about it,but you’re right….men do work in spurts. My husband will want to accomplish something right away, where I think of it as a work in progress and it’s more methodical.. good point. As long as he de stresses, he’ll be fine. I used to work in a rapid fire industry, and there’s a certain part of it that’s totally exhilarating!!

        Liked by 1 person

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