Olivia Newport baby robbins

Photo by Lorri Nussbaumt www.keeperscards.com

Ever have a freeze frame moment?

You walk in a room and instantly feel a significance beyond words.

I have a young adult daughter who works full time, goes to college full time (yes, I’m proud), and has a social life. So she’s not home much, and if she is, she’s in the process of leaving.

One day I walked into the living room and found her sitting on an ottoman pulled to the window. Her chin wedged onto the narrow ledge. Her face, unsupported by arms as she stared unsmiling out the window, told me nothing. Not her typical modus operandi.

I paused. I looked out the window at a nothing-but-the-usual-stuff street scene. My daughter’s shoulders slumped. Or did I imagine that?

“Are you okay?” I asked

“Yeah.” She answered in that way that teens and young twenty-somethings have. You’re not getting any information out of me.

“You sure?”


And then her phone sang the song of her best friend and she popped up, reading the text message. “Angie’s picking me up. She’s almost here.”

There was no freeze frame moment. No significance. Just waiting for a ride, instead of taking the car she bought with her own money (yes, I’m proud). Just another leaving.

She’s living under my roof while she finishes school, but she’s leaving in so many ways.

• She has worked full time at the same place for over four years and has her own identity there as a preschool teacher. By all reports, she’s fantastic (yes, I’m proud).

• She’s home at dinner time so rarely that I’ve stopped planning food for her.

• Her friend plays competitive basketball and she goes to all the games, a loyal, cheering, you-can-do-it friend who will always choose to be there willingly.

• She’s paying her own way through college, and determined to do it without debt (yes, I’m proud).

At the same time, she still doesn’t pick up after herself in the bathroom, and she takes dishes up to her room and doesn’t bring them down. She leaves her stuff all over the breakfast bar, just as she always did as a child. (Only she has more stuff and it’s bigger. She carries a purse the size of a small island.)

So perhaps we are caught in a freeze frame moment after all. I see my little girl, but she has become someone else—someone she was created to be beyond being my daughter.

In the ordinary, life happens. This particular freeze frame image is fuzzy around the edges, as if my daughter is in motion. Which she is, of course. She’s taking hold of her own future and my job now is to get out of the way.

• If you have young adult children, what is the hardest part of parenting at this age?



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  1. Anne Mateer on the January 23, 2012 remarked #

    This brought tears to my eyes as I am in much the same place, watching my two young adult children (the third is almost there as well!) become who God created them to be. Mine both go to school far from home, so I don’t get to see as many of those poignet ordinary moments. I think the hardest part of parenting now is how much I miss. I don’t know all their friends like I used to. And they don’t tend to tell all the good, fun things that happen. They just forget, since I’m not there–although they remember when they have a problem they need help with! Before, you got to enjoy both sides. Now, I miss not getting to experience all their little victories alongside them.

    • Olivia on the January 23, 2012 remarked #

      You’re right, Anne. I often joke that my children don’t seem to have any plans to move out, but I’m also aware of what I will miss when they do.

  2. Brenda on the January 23, 2012 remarked #

    I have 2 out of the house, #3 boomeranged back, and 3 more close behind. I don’t have problems with those apron strings…I LOVE watching my kids learn new things and achieve independence. The hardest part seems to be finding that perfect balance in letting them discover and maintain responsibility and convincing them that also means picking up after themselves and helping out around the house without feeling like you are back parenting a 10 year-old. Somehow, I think those lessons will only be learned once they have their own place…and maybe their own messy kids! 🙂

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