In this short story, "I Stand Here Ironing," a young mother does the best she can, but it is not enough. She struggles to work and take care of Emily. At times, Emily has to stay with other relatives. Through the years, Emily feels dejected, abandoned and forsaken by her mother.
The young mother did not deliberately abandon her daughter Emily. She was a single parent because Emily's dad walked out, leaving his family behind to get by as best they could.
Emily had trouble understanding how the children that followed her seemed to be so well adjusted. They seemed joyous in comparison to Emily's isolation.
Whose fault is it that Emily bears the blunt of the early years, the years her mother struggled to find work, the years when working hours conflicted with Emily's schedule as a baby girl?
Emily is now growing up, nearly grown. She has somewhat adjusted. Still, there are years that she and her mother can never recover. And Mother stands ironing. Emily questions whether she will ever finish ironing. Again, Emily feels abandoned by her mother, but the ironing must be done.
This story is of a mother who is torn between making a living and caring for her child, Emily. There is no way to balance her schedule; therefore, Emily grows up in an unbalanced world. Hopefully, she is not scarred for life.