The first time I read "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen, the emotions it provoked made a tight ball of fear and guild appear in my stomach, I broke out in a sweat and my heart began beating triple time. There were so many similarities between the mother's story and my memories of the last six years tat it amazed me. But after reading it a few more times, I didn't feel quite so bad. The mother (I will call her Tillie) and I both have done what we had to do to raise our children.
One similarity is that when my oldest son, Charles, was born, I was barely nineteen. It was scary to be a parent at such a young age, but I loved him and took great joy in him. I had to leave Charles with someone else who did not enjoy him the same way I did when he was very tiny, just like Tillie had to leave her daughter: "She was a miracle to me, but when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all."
We both did what we had to do.
I wasn't able to spend a lot of time with Charles when he was a baby because I worked seven days a week on a split shift. Circumstances had changed by the time he was a year old, to where I could stay home, but by then he was walking and talking some. I barely new him, just as Tillie barely knew her daughter when she got her back: "When she finally came home, I hardly knew her." Soon, I had another child (Kevin) and less time to spend with Charles. There were...