"We were really good about it," Michelle Obama told Today about Sasha's drop-off. "We didn't want to embarrass her because, y'know, she had roommates"

By Adam Carlson
December 10, 2019 09:56 AM

A few days after first opening up to PEOPLE about the “emotional” process of sending youngest daughter Sasha Obama to college this year, former First Lady Michelle Obama shared with Today some more details about that day and Sasha’s new life away from home.

Asked by Today co-host Jenna Bush Hager if there were tears at the drop-off, Mrs. Obama, 55, said “there were.”

But “we were really good about it,” she added in an interview that aired Tuesday. (The Obamas have asked to keep private where Sasha, 18, is enrolled.) “We didn’t want to embarrass her because, y’know, she had roommates.”

It was later in the day, however, that the poignancy of the moment really struck, Mrs. Obama said.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama
| Credit: Miller Mobley

Mrs. Obama recalled on Today: “After lunch, when we said that final goodbye, when we got into a car — me and Barack and Malia, who was there with us — and then Sasha drove off on her own and said that last goodbye, that’s when we were like [crying noises].”

With a laugh, Mrs. Obama re-enacted a few of their sniffles.

“I’m excited for my girls to grow up and to become independent,” she told Hager, with whom she has been in Vietnam this week spotlighting support for girls’ education. “But it is — you feel a little melancholy that they will never be the little ones that sit on your lap and listen to your every word and look at you adoringly. Those days are over.”

Last week, PEOPLE named Mrs. Obama one of four People of the Year. In an interview about her record-breaking 2019, she also looked back at Sasha leaving home for college.

“Time just goes so fast. But like so many experiences in the last 10 years, we wanted to make it feel as normal as possible, given our family’s circumstances,” she told PEOPLE then.

The Obamas earlier this year
| Credit: Michelle Obama/Twitter
Credit: Miller Mobley

“It was of course a little emotional to drop Sasha off at college,” Mrs. Obama said last week, admitting “the tough part” has been “missing our girls.”

“It’s an adjustment to see each other for a weekend here, a holiday break there,” she added, “but the moments we do spend together feel extra special because of it.”