July 21, 2017 10:45 PM

For many parents, watching their child graduate high school is a bittersweet moment that brings on tears — and lots of them. Sara Evans was no different, except the tears for her son’s major milestone came a little earlier than expected.

A month before son Avery starts his senior year, Evans has released her eighth studio album Words. Featured on the country album is the track “Letting You Go” — a song dedicated to her soon-to-be 18 year old and her disbelief, as a mother, in how quickly time has passed.

“It’s unreal to me,” the country singer, 46, told PEOPLE. “Every parent will tell you when they get to that point in their child’s life — especially their firstborn — that you just sit there and go, ‘Where did the time go? How did we get here so fast?'”

Kristin Barlowe

For Evans — who’s also mom to daughters Olivia, 14, and Audrey, 12 — writing the song was an especially difficult process and one that brought on many tears in the studio.

“When we were writing ‘Letting You Go,’ we were sobbing,” revealed Evans, who co-wrote the song with two other women. “I mean, literally sobbing because we all three have kids. It was just so emotional that day.”

But getting emotional about her son’s transition into adulthood is something Evans tries to avoid, holding on to the idea that Avery will forever be her “baby boy.”

“I try not to really dwell on it so much in the sense that it’ll make me depressed but Avery’s my baby boy,” she explained. “Even though he’s 17 and however many inches taller than I am, and he’s bigger me than me and he plays football, he’s a man. But he’s still my baby and in some ways, it’s devastating.”

As for her son’s reaction to the song, she says “he loved it” and “thought it was so cool.”

Avery, whom Evans described as a gifted guitar player, drummer and songwriter, is looking to follow in his mother’s footsteps and pursue music while in college. Although no official university decision has been made yet, Evans is thrilled that her son has endless opportunities in front of him.

“He took his ACT for the first time with literally no tutoring or anything — he just took it cold — and he made a 30,” she told PEOPLE with pride. “We’re super excited that he’ll be able to go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants. He’s really, really smart.”

And although the mom-of-three is sad to see her son grow older, she’s excited for this new chapter in Avery’s life.

“As a parent, you really do enjoy every phase of their lives; I’m so excited for him,” Evans revealed. “To watch him blossom as a musician himself has just been such a joy and I can’t wait to see what his future holds.”

Words is available now and can be streamed online through Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.

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