As a parent, you often think that you'll have forever with your kids. That they'll always be living just a room away. But this past week I've gotten a sneak peek at what is known as Empty Nest Syndrome. A feeling of sadness and grief after a child moves away. Some parents may claim that they're ready for the day. I can tell you that I'm not there yet.

Chase got the chance to travel to the Seattle area to help his uncle move into his new living arrangements. He offered to cover Chase's expenses, and then pay for his plane ticket home. There was never a set time frame that Chase was going to be gone but today marks one week. It's the longest he's been away from us as parents. Holly and I were excited for him. He'd get to see some wonderful sights and taste a little freedom before he started his senior year of high school. I've experienced a host of emotions since he left.

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At first, it was worry. Did they get to their next stop O.K.? We exchanged a few texts until he urged me to stop checking in so often. I get it. Give the kid some space. It's not like our house is completely quiet. Chase's two sisters are still both home this summer. But last Saturday, Cayleigh had a sleepover so we thought we'd do something with just Carly. She shot us down. Two kids were gone and the one left wanted nothing to do with us. Hello, empty nest.

This summer has been a surreal experience. We have a senior in high school! We're scheduling senior pictures. He's taking his ACT test. He's firming up future plans. I remember when his biggest concern was what new video game his friends were playing. Oh wait, that is still pretty high on the list. All I can tell you is that for every moment that I ever wanted Chase to be gone, there are two or three things that make me want him to stay. I feel like I have more to teach him. Things to explain. But I know I'm running out of time.

Chase is set to fly back to Iowa early next week, and I can't wait to see him. I'm sure there's a small part of him that looks forward to seeing us too. I get it. He's 17, and I'm his dad. But one thing I've learned during this time he's been gone is that I'll always welcome him back with open arms. From this trip, from college, from a lost job, from anything. I hope he's never too proud to know he's always welcome.

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