November 15, 2018 08:00 AM

It’s the college-application season when a lot of moms starting feeling weepy about their emptying nest.

Not Michelle Obama.

“That’s the rub of teenagers — they’re bumping up against the limits of where they are because they’re ready for the next thing,” the former first lady tells PEOPLE in an exclusive at-home interview for the cover story in the new issue.

Mom to Malia, a 20-year-old Harvard sophomore, and high-school senior Sasha, 17, Obama adds: “That’s how I feel with my girls: if they are ready for college, then I want them to go and I’m happy for them.”

For the full interview with Obama and exclusive at-home photos, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

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Plus, she’s got plenty going on in her own White House afterlife: “I’ve got an initiative, I’ve got a book, I’ve got a husband I can see again.”

Her memoir Becoming hit bookstores Tuesday and, through the Obama Foundation run with her husband Barack, she’s already launched the Global Girls Alliance to promote girls’ education worldwide.

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She says she is not weepy over Malia and Sasha leaving home “because I also have the resources that if I really get sad, I’ll go see them. Unlike my parents, who dropped me off at college and just had a phone call, I text with my kids. I can text [Malia] right this second and know exactly what she’s thinking. I don’t feel like she’s away, I feel like she’s off on her next adventure, so I’m excited about her.

“I don’t need my children to make me happy. I had them so that they’d happy.”

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