President Obama Says He Was a Crying Wreck When He Took Malia to College

“It was a little bit like open-heart surgery.”

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Former first daughter Malia Obama started her freshman year at Harvard this fall. And though President Obama put up a brave face in front of her, he revealed during a speech that as the Secret Service was driving him home, he was a blubbering mess, just like any parent.

According to WDEL, Obama was in Delaware to support Vice President Joe Biden at an event for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, in honor of the VP’s late son. His brief remarks at the reception were mostly to honor the Biden family, but he touched upon what it’s like to see his children grow up.

“For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast. I dropped off Malia at college and I was saying to Joe and Jill that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery,” he said. “I was proud that I did not cry in front of her, but on the way back, the Secret Service was looking straight ahead, pretending they weren’t hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough.”

But ultimately, Obama said, seeing your kids succeed is a way to remember what matters most in life. “It’s a reminder that at the end of our lives, whatever else we’ve accomplished, the things that we’ll remember are the joys that our children, and hopefully way later, our grandchildren, bring us,” he said. “Holding their hand, swinging on a swing, listening to them talk about what happened at school.”

Watch him talk about dropping Malia off at college below. And then call your dad.

Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.