In "I Stand Here Ironing," the narrator (Emily's mother) does not love her other children more, however, she is alone when Emily is a baby because Emily's father left them before Emily was a year old. Emily's mother tried to do all the things she felt were good for her daughter, but working to support the two of them was difficult.
The mother became so concerned about the woman who cared so little for her baby when Emily's mom worked during the day, that Emily's mom got a job where she could be home with the baby in the daytime, though it was hard for the mom.
Her mom tried to do what the doctors of the day suggested was the best way to raise a baby, but this was her first baby. Emily's mom married, and she found that after the birth of her second child, she had learned better than to listen to what was "popular" in the circle of male doctors of the day.
When she needed help to get on her feet financially, Emily's mom had to send her to stay with Emily's father's family until she was two. This was particularly hard on Emily, who came back a more serious little girl who did not know her mother well.
When Emily's mother had Susan, the second child, Emily became ill; she started to lose weight and have nightmares. The clinic persuaded Emily's mother to send Emily to a convalescent home to recuperate, but when she did not get well and did not regain the weight she lost when she had been sick, the social worker allowed Emily's mother to bring her home.
Emily's mother tried very hard with Emily, but Emily's experiences as a child toughened her up too quickly, so she was distant and didn't talk a lot. However, she did develop a sense of dramatic comedy, and won audiences over when on stage in school. In this way she seemed to find herself, and Emily's mother was grateful for this gift her daughter had found, especially because her young childhood had not been easy for Emily.
With her other children, Emily's mom now had a husband to support all of the kids, and had learned better ways to bring up a child: after all, when children are born, they do not come with directions.
Emily's mother, even to the end of the story, is haunted by guilt in the choices she had to make so that she and Emily could survive. Emily's mom loves Emily just as much as her other children: perhaps even more because she feels that Emily had to do with less love as her mother could not be around a lot, and with separations brought on by circumstances beyond her mother's control.