We Ritzes are stepping into the new normal this week.
College for Tim.
An empty nest for Jason and me.
On Sunday, Tim loaded up his car with all of his belongings and after church we all made the 7-1/2 hour drive down to Southern California - him in his car and Jason and I in ours. We had a family dinner together at an Italian restaurant and went back to our hotel to sleep. On Monday morning we drove to the campus of The Master's University. It was Tim's third time there and our first. As we turned onto the road leading to campus there were students lining the entry holding welcome signs and shouting their greetings to us. That's when a few tears threatened to leak out; for me, anyway. It is pretty simple to get me to cry these days, really - just love my kid. That's it. A pretty straightforward equation. The tears nearly started in earnest the morning before when I arrived at church and was greeted by our "Grammy Hill." She hugged me tight and asked when Tim would arrive because she had baked him cookies to take with him to school. (cue misty eyes) Later another young lady, whose family we love and have vacationed with in the past, came up and gave him even more home-baked cookies. (sniffle)
As we drove onto the campus, we saw many more groups of current Master's students smiling and cheering every new student and every parent on as we arrived. When we pulled into the parking area, another young man from our small town who is starting his sophomore year was there holding a welcome sign and he yelled out, "Hey, Tim!" in excitement. It nearly did me in. How many freshmen get welcomed onto their college campus by name before they ever get out of their car? God's grace knows the way to a mother's heart. The morning went by in a blur of activity - standing in a few lines, getting his dorm key, moving his things into his new room, finding his mailbox and figuring out how to open it, eating lunch - they keep you busy so you won't spend too much time thinking about the goodbye to come.
Even so, the goodbye came. I only shed a few tears as we prayed for our son, hugged him and walked away. That was it. The day that we had been counting down toward for months (let's be honest, years) with equal parts excitement and nerves... It came and it went. Jason and I got into our car and sat still for a few minutes, in a bit of a state of shock. Not sad, not frightened, not overjoyed, just stunned. My best friend texted and said, "I've got a coffee suggestion!" Perfect timing. She sent us to a local coffee shop not too far from campus to be able to catch our breath and process the emotions that were just beneath the surface.
We ordered our iced coffee/lattes and just sat and let our thoughts settle and our body temperatures return to normal (College move-in day is hot!). We didn't say much. We just stared at each other with wide eyes, shaking our heads. It is a lot to take in, this transition from actively parenting a child in your home to dropping off that child, turned young adult, at college... and driving away. A lot to take in.
Tim texted us later that night at 11:45pm: "First day of college a success. Plenty of friends and good times!"
Jason and I spent the next two days in a small, one-bedroom cabin in Twin Peaks, near Lake Arrowhead, before heading back home to our waiting empty nest in Northern CA. That mini-vacation was a very good decision. While we are home now and settling in to our quieter, emptier house, having that buffer was a true blessing.
On the first morning that we woke up in the cabin, I made coffee and we sat in the rocking chairs on the back deck and talked while we stared up at the beautiful tall trees. After our conversation grew quiet, I looked down on the deck and noticed an acorn lying there. I smiled, picked it up, and asked Jason to indulge me and take a photo of that acorn resting in our hands. "Large oaks from tiny acorns grow." Our precious (tiny) baby boy grew up, in the blink of an eye, into a wonderful (tall) young man. Only God can grow an oak tree from an acorn and only God can grow an infant into a man after His own heart. What a blessing to get to be a part of the growth process, while continuing to grow ourselves.
Now we move forward with the next phase of life. Time to see what God grows in each of our lives in the new normal.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!