The main strength of the mother in “I Stand Here Ironing” is her honesty in confronting the problems involved with raising her daughter Emily.
Many people in her position would not have been so forthcoming about something that is normally kept firmly within the bounds of the family unit. The fact that the mother feels able to share her concerns about Emily with a stranger is a good sign, as it holds out the prospect that something can be done to help the girl in the future.
A lot of people feel that sharing one's problems in this way is a sign of weakness. But as the mother shows, it can actually be a sign of strength. And so we must commend her for being so frank in admitting the various challenges she faces in raising Emily.
At the same time, the mother has her fair share of weaknesses. Like the rest of us, she makes bad choices, such as when she sent Emily to a horrible nursery school, where life for the poor little girl was cruel and unpleasant.
Had the mother done her research, she would've realized in advance that the nursery school was little more than a place for warehousing children and was certainly not an appropriate place for her daughter.