Joanna Gaines is experiencing a wide range of emotions as she prepares to send her 17-year-old son, Drake, off to college.
“In the grand scheme of heartbreaking things, this one comes with a lot of gratitude and excitement,” Gaines wrote in the Fall issue of Magnolia Journal. “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 life will look like and wonder if — or how many times — that might bring me to the floor.”
Of course, Gaines and her husband, Chip, have weathered storms before. As she notes in her essay, "Chip and I have experienced a little bit of all of it. Losing a loved one. Shifts in friendships. Bills we couldn’t pay. Moments where our hearts were broken. Times when all hope felt lost and circumstances were out of our control. When all I could think to do was lay facedown on the floor in surrender."
The “Fixer Upper” stars are also parents of Ella, 15, Duke, 14, Emmie Kay, 12, and Crew, 4.
Last year, Gaines reflected on the passage of time in a Facebook tribute to Drake on his 16th birthday. In the post, she recalled bringing Drake to work with her at the Magnolia store when he was a baby.
“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 into the shop,” she shared. “The one consistent thing they would all 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.”
Joanna and Chip celebrated their 19-year wedding anniversary in May. According to Joanna, the secret to their happy marriage is spending large chunks of time together.
“I think a lot of couples feel the need to get away from each other now and then, to take little breaks, and they come back after a girls’ weekend or a guys’ fishing trip or something all refreshed and happy to reconnect because they missed each other,” she explained in her and Chip’s 2016 book, “The Magnolia Story.”
“We were just the opposite and still are,” she continued. “We seem to give each other energy. We function better together than we do apart, and I don’t think either one of us has ever felt the urge to say, ‘I need a break from you.’”