Joanna Gaines is “emotional” about her eldest son, Drake Gaines, heading off to college, an insider exclusively tells Closer. The Magnolia Network star is “in her feels” about her firstborn leaving the nest.

“Even though her youngest, Crew, is 5, she pictures a life without kids around,” the source continues. “She talks to Drake as much as she can, and she sends him care packages, so that helps.”

Joanna, 45, and her husband, Chip Gaines, recently opened their Hotel 1928 in Waco, Texas. While the couple, who got married in 2003, have definitely had a lot on their plate with their latest project, family time has always remained their top priority.

The Magnolia Table author is “making more of an effort than ever to balance work and family,” the insider says. She is “grateful for her busy life and especially her kids, she just doesn’t like the idea of all these changes.”

Joanna and Chip, 49, are also parents to kids Duke, Emmie Kay and Ella Rose in addition to Drake and Crew. They have not publicly revealed which college Drake, 18, decided to attend. He did, however, come back home to visit the family’s Waco, Texas, farmhouse on September 4.

“When your kid comes home from college … you make all the things,” the mom of five captioned a photo of a tray of cookies in her Instagram Stories at the time.

Chip and Joanna Gaines visit the White House

Prior to her eldest child starting the next chapter of his life, Joanna penned a heartfelt post in Magnolia Journal.

“Soon, our oldest son, Drake, will be leaving home for college,” she wrote in August 2022. “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.”

Earlier this summer, the Gaines family attended Drake’s high school graduation, happy to celebrate his huge milestone.

“It feels like just yesterday that we were cheering him on as he took his first steps … but last weekend, as he walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma, we were cheering him on as he took his first steps into a world beyond what he’s known,” Joanna wrote on Instagram in May. “We’re so proud of you, Drake.”