Joanna Gaines Reflects on Son Drake Heading Off to College

by Chris Piner

Although it can seem like a lifetime away when a parent first brings home a child, the reality soon sets in that time will fly by and before long, the children are adults, leaving to start their own lives. While a welcoming stage in life, for parents, watching their children leave the nest is often bittersweet. Just ask the star of Fixer Upper, Joanna Gaines. At 44 years old, Joanna not only juggled a television show but also parenthood and marriage. For the past 20 years, Joanna shared her love with husband Chip Gaines. Together, the couple has five children and with the eldest, Drake, leaving for college at 17. The mom wrote a personal essay reflecting on the memorable times. 

Writing for the Magnolia Journal fall issue, scheduled to release on Friday, Joanna Gaines shared her emotion about Drake leaving home. “Soon, our oldest son, Drake, will be leaving home for college. 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.”

Joanna Gaines Talks About Fortitude

Joanne Gaines also focused on fortitude, stating, “It doesn’t show up in what we wear or how we carry ourselves. But when we’re tested, then our strength shows. We forget it’s there until the day we need it. 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.”

Not forgetting about her husband, and the obstacles they faced, Joanna Gaines continued, “In our 20 years of marriage, 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.” 

Hoping to help others who are facing hardships of their own, not knowing which way to go, Joanna Gaines offered some advice. “Whatever you might be carrying this year, this season, this very moment—remember fortitude comes to us in the inches forward. Not in one fell swoop or one big break. It is what we earn in the days we cling to what grounds us, in the minutes we are sweating out the last days of our own personal summers.”