All The Feels

Joanna Gaines' Oldest Child Is Heading To College, And It Feels Like 'A Loss'

The Magnolia Network creator reflects on how her son's absence will change her family dynamic.

Joanna Gaines is emotional about her son heading off to college. Here, she visits "Fox & Friends" to...
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Joanna Gaines is in a time of change and growth. The mom-of-five is simultaneously saying goodbye to the baby stage with her youngest child while accepting that her oldest is heading off to college soon. It’s a lot to take in, and to accept.

In a personal essay in the new edition of her magazine Magnolia Journal, Gaines, 44, opens up about fortitude and how strength presents itself when we’re tested.

“We forget it’s there until the day we need it,” she writes. “Until the day we find ourselves in the middle of hurt or adversity or stress. Until the day something or someone has left us wondering how we’ll make it to the next.”

To make her point, Gaines reflected on her and husband Chip Gaines’ 17-year-old son, Drake, and how his impending adulthood will shift the day-to-day she’s grown so accustomed to.

“Soon, our oldest son, Drake, will be leaving home for college,” she shares. “In the grand scheme of heartbreaking things, this one comes with a lot of gratitude and excitement. But still, my first child is moving away, and our family dynamic will change because of it, and that can feel like a loss of its own. I catch glimpses now of what that life will look like and wonder if — or how many times — that might bring me to the floor.”

The Gaines also share children Ella, 15, Duke, 14, Emmie Kay, 12, and Crew, 4.

Joanna Gaines and her family on summer vacation.

Joanna went on to say these moments are about “the promise of growth that follows the fall” and that she’ll be trying to appreciate the small things as this season in her life comes to an end.

“This year, I’m waiting on fall the same way I always do. I’ll watch the sky. I’ll listen for rain. I’ll pause at the trees with turning leaves. But I’ll do it all a little more patiently. A little more gratefully, remembering that strength isn’t earned in endings or beginnings but in the space I’m forging along the way,” she writes.

Last year, Joanna celebrated Drake’s 16th birthday with a touching post about cherishing childhood.

“Drake was my little shop baby and he came to work with me every day,” she captioned a picture of her initial family-of-three. “I was either wearing him on me or he was sleeping in the pack n play behind the counter. One of the things I remember most about those early days of chasing dreams and being a new mom was all the wisdom, encouragement, and support that came from other moms who would come in to shop. The one consistent thing they all would say is, ‘Cherish this time and hold him tight, because before you know it, he will be driving one day and then off to college.’ I'm forever grateful for those customers who unknowingly became my mentors. I've held on to their words all these years and tried my darnedest to savor the moments along the way – but dang they were right, it happened so fast.”

Drake as a baby with Chip and Joanna.

Joanna also recently shared a side-by-side photo of her youngest, Crew, as a newborn and now a preschooler, mourning the “baby” stage.

“Babies don't keep. Just pretending this FOUR year old is still a baby,” she captioned the picture.

Crew Gaines is 4!

As many parents know, it’s normal to grieve each stage of childhood as babies grow from toddlers into grade schoolers and then young adults. But as Joanna Gaines shares, it’s all about accepting the seasons, the changes, the ups and downs, and feeling grateful for the growth.