Former President Obama was every parent, shedding a tear or two when dropping off his first-born at college this fall.

While speaking at the Beau Biden Foundation's golf and tennis invitational, the dad of two opened up about the mix of emotions he experienced, as he and wife Michelle helped their daughter Malia settle into her Harvard dorm last month. "For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast," Obama reflected on the tearful send-off. "I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe and Jill [Biden] that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery."

That being said, the 44th president made sure not to embarrass the 19-year-old in front of her peers by holding back the floodgates until later. "I was proud that I did not cry in front of her," the former commander in chief remembered. "But on the way back, the Secret Service was off, looking straight ahead, pretending they weren't hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough."

And while the soon-to-be empty nesters might be missing their eldest daughter at home, Obama said that he took the emotional moment as "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."