I Stand Here Ironing by Tilllie Olsen

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The short story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen is an example of a mother daughter struggle. From what I took from the story, the young mom herself had an extremely rough life. She had her daughter Emily at a young age and it did not end up picture perfect like she might have thought it would. Her mother had to work to support them, so she always sent Emily off to be cared by others. Sometimes she was sent far away and for a long period of time. This caused distance between them. This impacted Emily in a huge way. To the point where Emily does not like physical affection such as hugs from her mother. Her mother loves her dearly, but was not able to provide her with a great life a child should have lived. Sadly, there was not enough weighing on their relationship her mother welcomed a new husband and more children. Emily seemed to be pushed farther from the entire family.
As time goes on Emily grows up, her mother criticizes and blames herself for the distance between the relationships. It is causing tension in their already rocky relationship. The mother is obviously suffering from guilt on how Emily was raised and the unpleasant memories of the past. Emily was also suffering. We see her shyness towards those who care for her. She was a very depressed teen. She had quietness in her daily duties, and her feelings of not being good enough towards herself. She always felt that she was extremely ugly and not smart compared to her younger sister, Susan. She thought she was perfect. She was the typical “Shirley Temple” image.

VanHillo 1
First, in the beginning of the story someone was on the phone that cared for Emily, told her mother “I wish you would manage the time to come in and talk with me about your daught...

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...r mother, tears flowing down her face, “Mother, I did it. I won, I won; they gave me first prize; they clapped and clapped and wouldn’t let me go.” From that phone call Emily was belated with joy, but still no positive reinforcement from her mother. Her mother did not believe in Emily because she did not believe in herself yet.
It was hard for her mother to have a baby at a young age herself and try to make ends meet was not easy. She needed to lean on others for help, which she thought at the time was right thing to do, but got caught up on her new family. This is why Emily had so much resentment towards her mother. This story is a great example of a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. The story does great job showing the mother’s anguish over her daughter, and a depressed teen that needed her mother and is struggling to overcome a very unhappy childhood.
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