June 15, 2018 02:15 PM

Christina Aguilera is feeling liberated, but that doesn’t mean she’s not nervous.

The superstar singer and mother of two is back with her first album in six years, Liberation, and gearing up to head back on the road for the first time in over a decade.

“I’m thrilled,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue about her return to music. “I feel like a new artist again, which is so refreshing. It’s what I’ve been needing for so long. I don’t really have any expectations.”

Though Aguilera’s last record Lotus came out in 2012, the star hasn’t headlined a tour in over a decade. And she says that was for one good reason.

“My kids always come first,” she explains of daughter Summer Rain, 3½, with fiancé Matt Rutler, and her 10-year-old son Max Liron with ex-husband Jordan Bratman.

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Christina Aguilera and family
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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In fact, it was motherhood that led her to take a break from her nonstop music career. “I took the position on The Voice in the first place because I wanted to have a stable, one-place, rooted environment for my kids,” she explains.

“But with any artist, that will run its course and feel stagnant. I was like, ‘Man, I won’t be of service to anyone if I don’t get back to who I am and what I love to do,’ ” shares Aguilera, 37. “I said, ‘Mama’s got to hit the road again!’ “

Now, as she prepares to tour for Liberation this fall, the star admits, “It’s scary. I wasn’t a mom that last time I went out on a tour.”

Christina Aguilera
Luke Gilford

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But she’ll be in good company this time around. While her son will mostly stay back home with his dad in Los Angeles (“He can do his school and be focused”), Aguilera will have one piece of precious cargo with her.

“My daughter, on the other hand, is going to be 4. She’s a mama’s girl and I’ll definitely be taking her on the road with me,” says Aguilera. “She’s going to learn to see life through a different set of eyes.”

The singer explains, “I’m going to try to make it as cushy and comfortable for her as possible because if she’s not comfortable, I’m not.”

Christina Aguilera and daughter Summer
Christina Aguilera/Instagram
Christina Aguilera's son Max and daughter Summer
Christina Aguilera/Instagram

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And though it’ll be Summer’s first tour, she has already made her mark on Mommy’s music. “My daughter’s laughter actually begins the intro of the record,” says the singer, adding, “Being a mother is so important to me.”

Aguilera’s new album Liberation, out Friday, is available for purchase on amazon.com.

For more from Christina Aguilera, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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