Michael Sarver, American Idol

Yes, Michael Sarver is disappointed to have his American Idol run cut short. But no, he is not sorry to be heading home.

"Through my experience on Idol, I learned just how much I love my family, because I've never been away from them that long," Sarver told reporters the day after his dismissal. "I got a good hold on what my priorities are in life, and No. 1 is my family."

"Although I'll always want to do this music thing, and I plan on hitting it hard after this experience," he added, "[being on Idol] really taught me a lot about myself."

Upon being eliminated on Thursday night, Sarver reached out to his wife, Tiffany. "The first thing I remember saying to her is, 'Well, I'm coming home,' and we're both collectively excited about that," says the 27-year-old Texan. "My wife would have been 110 percent behind me as long as I stayed here, but now that I am off the show she is quite excited that we get to be together again."

"We" of course includes the couple's two children. Although their 2-year-old son, Grayson, is too young to fully register Daddy's absence, daughter McKenna is a different matter. "The one thing that a 3 1/2-year-old girl understands is that I'm not home," says Michael. "So right now, I'm going to focus on getting home and making sure she knows that I love her."

When not effusing about his upcoming homecoming, Sarver took a moment to address the Idol judges' occasional tomfoolery.

"People need to understand that this is supposed to be a fun thing, the time of our lives, and [the judges] help make it that by goofing around," he says, alluding to this week's performance show, where Simon wrote on Paula's face with marker. "It does make it complicated if you feel like they're not really listening to you, but overall, the fun they're having makes everybody smile — and that's what entertainment is all about."

For the latest on American Idol, tune into TV Guide Network's Idol Tonight every Wednesday at 8 pm/ET and Idol Wrap every Friday at 8 pm/ET with co-hosts Kimberly Caldwell and Justin Guarini. Plus get more on your favorite Idols every Friday with American Idol Rewind at 7 pm/ET.