Mothers Struggling with Guilt - Compares "Teenage Wasteland" to "I Stand Here Ironing" by Anne Tyler and Tillie Olsen

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Many mothers make mistakes with their first child. They may not give them enough attention, or they may give them too much attention. In the two short stories “I stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen and “Teenage Wasteland” by Anne Tyler, both of the mothers reflect back on the struggle they had raising their first child. They talk about how they handled situations and what they would change if they could do it over. Both “I Stand Here Ironing” and “Teenage Wasteland” depict a mother struggling with guilt, thereby showing the difficulties involved in raising children.

Lastly, both stories depict mothers struggling with guilt over past decisions made concerning their first child. In “I Stand Here Ironing” the mother regrets that she didn’t have the knowledge then, that she does now. She shows this when she says “My wisdom came too late” (Olsen 813). The mother feels that she did better raising her other children, and only made mistakes concerning her first child. When she looks at her daughter’s life she finds herself wishing she could have done more for her. Just like in “I Stand Here Ironing” by Olsen, “Teenage Wasteland” by Tyler also depicts a mother struggling with guilt over decisions she made while raising her son. The author shows the mothers helplessness by saying “Had she really done all she could have?” (Tyler 1170). The mother felt helpless in the problems with her son, and feels guilty for not trying to do more. She also wonders if she had really done all that she could have to help her son or if she pushed him too much. Both mothers struggled with guilt and the consequences of their decisions concerning their first child.

There are many difficulties that arise while raising children; these short stories are about two mothers that both struggled with the guilt of their decisions involving their first child. The majority of new mothers make mistakes with their children that they later regret. It’s all part of learning the best way to...
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