“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….