Sending my boy to USAFA... A Mothers Story

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by VaMom2013, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. VaMom2013

    VaMom2013 Member

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    As the Mom of a current C3C, I wanted to share my personal experience as I sent my son off to become a USAFA cadet! From the day we received the infamous BFE, I was filled with questions and emotions. I followed the forums closely and was always excited to come across a post where someone had shared their personal experience. My hope is to provide the same and maybe help a few upcoming 2015 parents prepare for their journey.

    If any of you are questioning whether to attend I Day, I believe it’s an experience no parent should miss if they can possibly be there! I flew to Colorado with my son. His dad wasn’t able to attend, but I have a brother in the Colorado Springs area so we had plenty of family to see him off. For me, seeing my son off on I Day was a life changing experience. Mike is my oldest of 2 children, and the first to leave home. He and I have always been very close and in many ways, I was literally dreading this day. It was, without a doubt, the toughest day of my life, and one I will never forget! We went thru the morning process with great anticipation, tho I was fighting back tears the entire time. After all the preparation and planning for this day, I believe my son was just ready to “get it started”. I, on the other hand, was just not ready to let him go! When it came time for our final goodbyes, my heart was breaking and I definitely had a hard time letting him walk away, but I stayed strong and through teary eyes I watched my son take his first steps up the stairs to a new life. Believe me, I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything! I’ve never felt so lost, yet so proud in my life… it was such a strange mix of emotions! I held myself together and we watched the rest of the process from across the lawn catching a nervous smile from him here and there until he stepped onto the bus and I watched him drive away. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, I totally lost it! The rest of the day was filled with tears, actually to the point of little panic attacks, literally wanting to go pick him up and undo the fear and loss I was feeling. I honestly wasn’t emotionally prepared for the intensity of that day, but here’s the good news… I survived!! I had made many great academy friends for support, and everyone told me it would get easier, and I’m happy to report that you can find strength in believing that is true! It DOES get easier… I promise!! Ok… back to my story. After a sleepless and tear filled night, I woke early and traveled out to the Chapel wall eager to see my boys face during the swearing in ceremony. We were smart enough to bring binoculars! And there he was, forth row Demons, and I could watch his every move. Again, mixed emotions on my end… here was my strong, independent son, captain of the football team, state wrestler… suddenly looking lost and confused, which only led to more tears on my part as I watched him march off the field and away from me. But again, in hindsight, it was an amazingly proud moment I would not have wanted to miss. Also, I knew he knew I was up on that wall, and I knew it somehow helped him thru that first difficult day. I guess my point is this… if there is any way to attend I Day, I think every parent who wants to be there should go! Regardless of how difficult that day was for me, and probably my son too, it was one of life’s moments I’m happy I was a part of.

    After a long and lonely flight home, I put all my energy into supporting my son through this tough transition. That helped. I wrote him each and every day, keeping my letters supportive and up beat. I never let on to him the loss I felt from that day, but I did let him know he was loved and missed and filling his family with pride. My days were filled with work, a few hours scanning Webguys photos for pictures of Mike, and always ended with a long letter from home. I remember him telling me during one of his many phone calls home on Doolie Day “In” just how much my letters were helping him, and to keep them coming, the longer the better. That made it all worth it!! Originally we weren’t planning to attend A Day knowing the limited time we would get to spend with him, but that decision changed a couple weeks into BCT. Watching him thru pictures, and reading the letters he sent home, I knew it was important to him that his family be there when it was all said and done. I was very excited to tell him on Doolie Day In that his father, sister and I would be there for A Day! It was a great boost for him, and I know it helped him thru the rest of BCT! And being there to watch him march out in his cadet uniform, running out onto the field to give him that first hug, and standing by his side as he received his shoulder boards was PRICELESS! Again, one of life’s moments not to be missed if you can make it happen!

    So there you have it, a somewhat quick summary of my experience and how I, as an emotional Mom, sent my boy off to become a cadet. My motto with my son has always been “I’m not letting you go, I’m just letting you grow.” And I’m happy to report that I have adjusted well, and my son is a successful and happy 3 degree who is looking forward to his “Cadre” assignment for BCT1 this summer. He is truly happy at the Academy. He has made amazing friendships that will last a lifetime and he knows in his heart he is exactly where he belongs. I hope some of the more sensitive parents will find strength in my story. Even though my experience with I Day and BCT began with heartache and what felt like incredible loss… I’m able to look back on it today with a new understanding. I don't think anything can prepare you for the day your child walks away from your side and into a new life, but rest assured, in time, your pride will override your pain! Today, we talk on the phone quite often, I’ve traveled out there for Parent Weekends and amazing ski trips, and our relationship has grown thru sharing this experience. I know that I am extremely proud of my son and all he has accomplished in his short life!

    So, to all the upcoming parents of the Class of 2015… Congratulations… and as many will say, you are in for the ride of your life… good and bad. Best wishes to all of you!
     
  2. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Parent

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    Thank you VAmom for sharing. I am sending off #1 of 3 sons in June and tear up everytime I think of I-day. I know he is ready, he's wanted this since 5th grade, but I'm not! I'm going to remember your "not letting you go, letting you grow" quote June 23rd.
     
  3. bayviewaccounting

    bayviewaccounting Member

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    I can't tell you how much I needed this!
     
  4. bergmom

    bergmom Member

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    A grateful mom

    Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I will be sending my oldest of 3 sons off to the Naval Academy on June 30th and as that day draws closer the anxiety continues to grow. Please know that your words will be ringing in my ears as I plan for and experience that big day...thank you for sharing your pain, pride and survival! Good luck to your son as he pursues his dreams!:smile:
     
  5. kumano

    kumano New Member

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    Timely Reading

    I could not be prouder of my son who is in the upcoming class. I sit here with tears in my eyes more often than not these days. It is not like he is just going off to college like a lot of my other friends kids are. He is off to fulfill his dream that has wanted since 6th grade. Your words of encourgement could not have come at a better time. I too shall remember your quote.

    Thanks.
     
  6. chrissyjean

    chrissyjean Member

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    As for the part about parent's attending inprocessing day, it really depends on the cadet. I'm a C2C now, and my parents did not come with me for inprocessing. I did the AOG bed and breakfast, and definitely feel like it was the right choice for me. just a little cadet insight!
     
  7. Texas2013

    Texas2013 Member

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    I can absolutely relate to VaMom2013. My son is also a C3C. I did not go to I Day; my husband went and I said good-bye in Austin. It was terribly hard but it was the right decision for our family. We wrote letters every day during basic and our son truly appreciated that connection to home. He thanked us every chance he could for those letters and the time/effort we put into them. He knew, without a doubt, that we loved him and supported him.

    We were not planning to go to A Day because we were taking the whole family to Parent's Weekend in September and making a vacation of it. However, like VaMom, a few weeks into basic I couldn't stand it and we began planning for our trip to A Day, too. We decided not to tell our son, though. Instead, we made signs and surprised him! We sat directly behind his squadron in the bleachers (they were on the field with their backs to us). One of his friends glanced over his shoulder and saw our sign with Zach's name on it and whispered to Zach, "I thought your family wasn't coming...." Zach couldn't believe his eyes when he finally was able to turn around. It was a wonderful day for us all! We had such a great time. He was truly surprised and so thankful that we came. He just kept saying, "Thank you for coming. I miss you so much! I love you all." It's an incredible feeling to see your child in THAT environment, in THAT moment, in THAT place in their life. And, you will know that they are JUST FINE and you are, too. It's OK to cry. We all do - even now. :)
     
  8. COMom2015

    COMom2015 New Member

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    Love this - encouraging and comforting words. Thank you so much !
     
  9. Farleigh85

    Farleigh85 Member

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    Our experience was different. Neither I nor my wife went to I Day. We asked our son if he wanted us to be there, and he said he preferred that we didn't go. So, we put him on a plane and sent him on his way. We didn't experience any exceptional separation blues. One reason: I'm retired military and we were accustomed to such separations. Another reason, I think, is because he knew we'd be seeing him soon enough, on Parent's Day, Labor Day weekend. And we saw him several more times during the school year (granted, we live just a short flight away). It was amazing how much we got to see him during the school year. In fact, his mother joked to him, "How can I miss you if you won't stay away?" Of course, we did miss him. And I experienced some anxiety and concern reading a few of his letters from BCT. But it was transient.

    I recall reading about a former Navy astronaut who was a Naval Academy graduate. This was in the late 1940s. His mother drove up to the gate at Annapolis, parked the car a short distance away, got out with her son and walked up to the Marine guard on duty. Gesturing to her son she said to the guard, "He's yours now. Please take care of him." Then she got back in the car and drove away.

    Each family has to do it its own way. God bless you all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  10. VaMom2013

    VaMom2013 Member

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    Texas... what a GREAT surprise for your son! We had planned to make it a surprise too but during Doolie Day phone calls we couldn't contain our excitement! In hindsight, I do think it helped him through the rest of BCT, but the surprise element would have been awesome!

    And Chrissy brings up a good point, not all cadets will want the emotional goodbyes on I Day. Lots of cadets choose the Bed and Breakfast option. I guess this is a good time to talk to your son or daughter about what they want and need.

    I'm glad my story brings encouragement. I truly was overwhelmed with the emotions of I Day.... the "empty nest" syndrome caught me off guard. If my story helps a few Momsto be better prepared for the emotions of that day, and trust that its short lived and everyone adjusts.... then that makes me happy :)

    Remember, you're not letting them go, you're just letting them grow! They are more than ready! Moms on the other hand... not so much.
     
  11. Texas2013

    Texas2013 Member

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    VaMom, it was hard not to tell him on Doolie Day In calls. We were so excited. Then there were countless times when I nearly told him in my letters but managed to keep it a secret. It was a great time for all of us. It's really a personal decision for each family whether to go to I Day and/or A Day or not, but do try to be there for Parent's Weekend.

    I'm excited for the new basics and their families. Best of luck to each of you. You're beginning an incredible new chapter in your life! Be sure to enjoy the rest of this school year, though. It's not over, yet!
     
  12. kalusafa

    kalusafa Member

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    Our i-processing story

    VA Mom, our son is also a C3C and doing well. I enjoyed your story. I posted ours sometime after our first Parents Weekend in 2009. Since then, it has been a fantastic experience. Although we live in MI, we get out to see our son what seems about every 3-4 months. Anyway, here is our story which went through part of the first year. Congratulations to the Class of 2015 appointees and parents. Get ready for one heck of a ride. Oh...one other thing...the wisdom from ChristCorp is priceless and always right on. I planned to meet him at last year's Navy game but we ended up in the cadet's tailgate area. Here is our story...

    ************
    Hi everyone, we attended I-day with our son last June. Wow - I can't believe all this time has gone by so fast. I enjoyed reading these stories so here is ours.

    The day before I-day, my son flew out on an AFA ticket, and we were on a different flight. The plan was to meet in Denver. Well, our flights were on schedule. Unfortunately, our son's flight got out of Detroit really late, and he missed a connection flight in Chicago. So we ended up in Denver and he was stuck in Chicago. After several hours of trying to find a way to get him on another flight, he called us and said that USAFA got him and a bunch of other basics to be on another flight into COS. We were hoping to spend a good part of the day together as a family relaxing, but he did not get into COS until about 6:30PM or so. The ironic thing is that we met a host family at the airport waiting for my son's flight to get in to pick up their new basics. Long story short, they are a fantastic family and offered to sponsor our son as well. So I guess the flight dely actually paid off in the long run. My son said almost the entire flight was new basic cadets.

    Our son is IC (not football), and we barely got to the end of the team dinner that night at the Academy. Following dinner, we got to our hotel for the last night together.

    Next morning at the Embassy Suites, I was up early and had breakfast. The place was full of cadets going to I-day. My son was one of the last ones to have breakfast and get ready to leave. Next thing you know, there is a power failure at the Embassy and the elevators didn't work to get up to our floor. No emergency lights in the stairwell either. The nervous dad in me was worried we were going to be late.

    We finally got to AOG. What an experience…all these kids dropping off their bags with instructions from 'nice' cadre. We stood in line and then got into Doolittle Hall. Word of advise, I knew there was a back room area with a library, and a quiet area. Don't go in there as tempting as it is. Away from the crowds, emotions caught up with us. Well 5 minutes later we said our goodbyes as he went up the stairs. We saw him outside walking the Heritage Trail, going over the bridge, and getting on the red (red is bad) bus. Later he told us the bus was not a fun place to be...even though everyone knew that's where it all starts.

    After he left, the Colorado parents club had a picnic for anyone who wanted to come. It was on the Academy grounds at a campsite. I am sure they will do that again. It was nice; we were able to talk with other parents.

    Someone above said something about the tears and of some of it being pride. I really think it is the pride. It is almost a year later and tears of immense pride can start at any time of the day. I don't think it is sadness; it is the unbelievable pride in my son, what he has accomplished, and what he is doing.

    In the afternoon on I-day, we went to the Chapel wall which was filled with parents watching for a glimpse of their basics. We finally saw our son from a distance late in the day. Yeah!

    We went to the Swearing In ceremony the next morning. Get there about an hour early because the Chapel wall gets full. More tears (of pride) through that. Recently my son began talking a little about I-processing. He said they were actually sworn in, in a room. He said at that moment he knew he was joining something bigger than he was.

    We spent a few days in the Springs after that. We went white water rafting that was really cool. Also note, the Chapel wall will become your place to go to daily when you are in the Springs.

    We joined the Webguy and were glued to the computer daily looking for pictures of the Cobras A - and our basic. We found pictures almost every day. I remember thinking we knew more about what he was doing daily than if he went to State U.

    My wife and I went to Acceptance Day in early August. If you can make this work, I recommend it. We only had a few hours with our son after the ceremony, but it was fantastic watching the marching, band, and seeing your cadet get their much coveted shoulder boards placed on them. There is a forum on the AOG Webguy site and the parents get to know one another. The parents of the squadrons set up picnic lunches for their squadrons after the ceremony. This was really great. Not all parents could make the trip, so whoever went made sure to buy enough lunches for multiple new C4C cadets. We picked up about a dozen sandwiches from Quiznos to share. The several hours together were short, but very much worth it.

    Get to Parents Weekend at all costs. This is over the Labor Day weekend and you should get your hotel reservations now. They will sell out and probably have done so already.

    We have been pretty lucky. Even though we live in MI, we got out there for a sport camp the summer before inprocessing, Orientation, I-day, Acceptance Day, and Parents Weekend. My wife went to CA to a sporting event in November. He was home for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas. I just got back from a few days out there last week at a parents week for his team. I got to go have pizza with him at Arnolds Hall on Thursday evening, attended two classes on Friday, dinner on Friday and Saturday, and he stayed over with me at his sponsor's house on Saturday evening. It was a great time.

    Well that’s about it. What a fantastic experience this has been so far. Good luck to all of you.

    Bill
     
  13. VaMom2013

    VaMom2013 Member

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    Bill, thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it and I'm sure the new parents will appreciate it. And trust me, its a good thing I didn't find that private room on I Day or I might not have let him go... lol! Like you, we manage to see quite a bit of Mike through this adventure. I'm lucky to have my brother, a retired LtCol, living 2 miles down 25 from USAFA so I pretty much have my own room there. Lets just say I'm certainly buidling up my Bonus miles on Southwest! And its great, my brother is my sons sponsor, so he always has family.

    Its very true that our pride certainly overrides any pain we may feel watching our children walk up those stairs. And I think you'd agree, the time is flying by. We'll be sitting in the stands watching the Class of 13, Best to be Seen graduate before we know it!

    Again, thanks for sharing.
     

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