It might sound funny but I feel like I have bonded with many of you as we have collectively navigated the turbulent waters of Service Academy applications, nominations and appointments or rejections. Row2020, I am rooting for USMMA to issue your son an appointment. Helicopter Mom, I am rooting for your son, too. Yesterday, I was pained to learn that so many talented young people got TWEs—and saddened to know that my new friends (you) were trying to keep your own emotions in check as you watched your child work though his or her disappointment. In almost every case I suspect the child handled the rejection and disappointment better than the parent. I laughed out loud reading the post from the NA alum who offered to sell his Navy gear after his alma mater had the audacity to reject his offspring. My new NA friend was entitled to vent and he did it in a way that made his point. His alma mater clearly told him that it owed him nothing. He, in turn, exercised his right to tell his alma mater he owed it nothing. Plain and simple, rejection hurts, and, as parents, I bet we handle rejection in our own lives better than we handle rejection in our children’s lives. For my new friends who are about to launch their oldest or only child, six months ago you were newbies to the application process. Today, you are veterans. For many of us, we will be starting a new chapter in our lives as empty nesters as our children venture out into the world. “Oh, the Places They Will Go.” – Dr. Seuss. I have read some sage advice on this forum. Velveteen Rabbit, you understand fully your role as the parent of a young adult. We should all pay close attention to your recent words of wisdom. Our sons and daughters have the right to live their own lives. It is time for us (their parents) to step back and watch them succeed, stumble--and sometimes fail. It won’t be easy. But we have had some experience with letting them earn their independence stripes. If you were like me, the first time you left your oldest child with a nonfamily member was traumatic, even though, in my case, I was upstairs the whole time working in my home office. The first overnight at a friend’s house also caused angst—for me, not my child. The first time he went away to camp—oh my, I couldn’t wait for that week to end. The first time he drove a car alone—yikes! The time he came home and told me that he got a speeding ticket because he exceeded the 60-mph speed limit by 34 mph, my heart stopped. Suffice it to say, I was more calm about the fact that he obviously and blatantly broke the law than DH. I was more concerned that had my teenage son crashed he (and others) would not have survived. DH thought our wannabe Richard Petty was an idiot and told him so. Brovol, had I known you at the time I would have sent a PM to you to ask that you put on your black robe and scare the *hit out of the young lad. I have been through this drill before, at least part of this drill. DS1 is launched. He graduated from a SMC and is active duty Army. I recall DH and I thinking that DS1, then 15-years old, might live in our basement until he was 40-years old. Today, DS1 is 24-years old and lives independently, 5,000 miles away from his loving parents. Apparently, the Army believes he can function without his parents oversight or input; they just promoted him. Now, I am faced with DS2 leaving home. His path will take him to Alabama for a year at Marion. He will learn firsthand if he is a good fit for a SA or a SMC. He cannot wait to fly solo. As for me, I am trying to work and travel less in the next several months because something tells me that DS2 will never live at home or in the same state as his parents again. Notwithstanding that DS2 loves the game of hockey and would like to play at the club level in college, he hates cold weather. We live in the self-proclaimed State of Hockey, which tells you that cold weather is the norm, not the exception. My unsolicited advice to my friends who are sending their offspring off to a SA or SMC for the first time is to let them fly solo. I assure you some of you will receive calls from your offspring telling you that they made a mistake. Talk them off the ledge. The life that they left behind no longer exists. Their high school friends have scattered. It is time to suck it up and recognize they chose the more difficult path. That said, there are times that you will need to listen. Sadly, some of them will recognize that mentally they are not a good fit for the pressures of a SA or SMC. Pay attention to signs of depression and extreme anxiety. I know I might be sending mixed messages, but there is a difference between the kid who is out of his or her comfort zone and simply needs some tough love and the kid who is experiencing a mental health crisis because he or she cannot handle the stress. It’s a judgment call. For the kids who make it through that first year, you, as parents, will see a huge difference. They are no longer kids; rather, they are young men and women with a defined purpose. They are not superheroes, but they are downright special. Tell them that you love and support them. I guarantee that you will never regret telling your child that you love them, even if it sometimes sounds strange. Although they are among America’s best and brightest, you need to tell yourself repeatedly that you should not live vicariously through your young cadet or midshipman. Again, pay attention to Velveteen’s sage words. Your job is to stop hovering and let them manage their lives—just as our parents let us manage our lives. Be proud of them, but, if you are not an alum and you know the names of those in command or plebe knowledge better than your son or daughter, it is time to back off. This is your time to reconnect with your significant other, friends and extended family members. Heck, resolve to make new friends--friends that have no connection to your children. Commit to getting in better shape, eating healthier, reading more books, writing a book, building a cabin, running for office or saving the world. It is time to get back to living YOUR life. This is YOUR time. I encourage you all to remind me to follow my own advice.