"I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen is a depiction of a mother-daughter relationship that lacks involvement and warmth. The whole story is composed of the mother's memory of her relationship with her daughter, Emily. The memory is a painful one comprised mostly of the way the mother was much less able to care for Emily. Through her forsaken Emily, Olsen demonstrates the importance of physical and emotional support, and how a lack can be detremental.
The mother was an invisible parent for Emily. Her reason for not being there for Emily was because she was a "young and distracted mother" (Olsen 262). The real reason she was inattentive was because she was inexperienced. She lacks the understanding of how essential it is to be there physically for Emily. Emily needed her mother for directions on things that is needed in order to be healthy, things that a nursery or a convalescent home does not endow. Emily needed guidance on things such as school and friends. Emily was not good with school; she was a "slow learner" (Olsen 260). Her mother did not contribute any suggestion on how to improve in school nor did she lay stress on the importance of doing well in school. Emily did not have many friends. She is alienated from people because of her mother. Because her mother seldom smiled at her, "she does not smile easily" (Olsen 258). Emily was not a friendly looking person, "her face is closed and sombre" (Olsen 258). If only Emily's mother was to take control of things and constitute beneficial conditions for Emily, Emily would have been well off. Unfortunately, Emily's mother has no control. All the decisions she made for Emily (nursery, school, convalescent home, smiling at Emily) derived from persuasions of strangers. Emotional support also plays an important role of Emily's well being. The idea mother suppose to care, support, and value their children needs. Emily needed this nourishment.