“I Stand Here Ironing” Journal Response

The short story “I Stand Here Ironing”, by Tillie Olsen highlights the hardships that she had as a mother raising her children. The most influential factor that impacted her was the social conditions that were present during the depression. Since she was only nineteen when she had her first child, Emily, she was unprepared for the responsibilities that came along with motherhood, which were only made more difficult by the fact that the depression was starting. Olsen admits this when she says “We were poor and could not afford for her the soil of easy growth. I was a younger mother, I was a distracted mother.” (Olsen 98). This displays that even though the narrator had the right intentions as to raise her daughter the right and best possible way, she was limited drastically to resources because of the social troubles implemented economically. As her last resort, she had her daughter put into what are now foster homes since she needed the aid so that she would be able to raise the other children right. She continues to beat herself up at the fact that she felt like she wasn’t there for her child, but she hasn’t or can’t accept the fact that nobody is perfect and that mistakes can be made, and even in the extreme, what needs to be done needs to be done. Even now in our current society it’s so typical for a child to be taken out of their natural home with their biological mother and father, and put into foster homes with other humans who are strangers to them with an unknown environment; whatever the cause may be in all of the different situations, there was one thing all of them have in common and that is social hardships. The narrator can’t come to inner peace since she feels like she can’t forgive herself for not being there for her daughter, for not being available for her when times got tough, or that it’s too late for her to be there for her now since “She has lived for nineteen years. There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me.” (Olsen 92).