The 52-year-old singer shares with Billboard magazine how she's changed since the birth of her son, Eissa, in January 2017.
"Even in his short 17 months on the planet, [my son] has showed me that love, no matter how deeply you believe you have experienced that emotion, can always go deeper. Love is limitless," she explains. "And for someone like me, raised in show business where self-concern is always a priority, how fortunate I am now to be concerned, first and foremost, with the welfare of someone else. Day after day and night after night, holding my baby in my arms, I am at peace."
Jackson adds, "I am blessed. I feel bliss. In those moments, all is right with the world."
Even at his young age, Eissa — who Jackson shares with ex Wissam Al Mana — already appears to have a favorite musician -- and it's not his mom.
"Bruno [Mars] was really the first music my son responded to. During and after his birth, I comforted myself with Brazilian jazz, music that always relaxes me. Then when the baby began crawling, Bruno was breaking out big and on the radio all the time," Jackson says. "That delighted both of us. Bruno is a throwback to the days when the greatest artists could do it all: write, sing, dance, produce."
In addition to opening up about her son, Jackson also shares one of her favorite memories with brother Michael Jackson, who died in June 2009.
"I was 16 and in between my first two records. Michael was recording [1982’s] Thriller. He invited me to the studio where he was about to sing 'P.Y.T.' and asked me to help out on background vocals," she recalls. "Since we had been singing together forever, I knew it’d be easy. I jumped at the chance. I loved being one of the 'P.Y.T.'’s and was especially proud -- I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging — that when the record was mixed, my single background voice was the one featured. I can’t tell you how good that made me feel."
Jackson is also candid about her issues in the past with self-doubt. "Like millions of other women, I’ve struggled with low self-esteem my whole life. I’m doing better in that regard," she confides. "My inclination toward harsh self-criticism and even self-negation has dramatically eased up. I believe in all the different methods of help -- smart psychology, vigorous exercise and sincere spirituality."
While Jackson isn't so eager to offer details about her new music, she does talk about her process — or lack thereof — that goes into planning a new album.
"The truth is that I don’t try to analyze the creative process while it’s still ongoing. I’m very intuitive about writing ... I’m glad I’m not methodical or self-conscious as a writer. It’s important that I maintain a let-it-happen-when-it-happens approach," she says. "I don’t want to strain or stress. I want to be a channel for whatever images and emotions are running through my imagination. Spontaneity is so important to me. It allows for surprise, and, for me, surprise is what breaks up the boredom of daily life. When I finally get to the music that genuinely expresses what I’m experiencing in the moment, I feel free. Music does that for me. Its healing properties are extraordinary."
While she seems to have a lot on her plate, Jackson has no plans to slow down her music career any time soon.
"The drive is in my DNA. I couldn’t lose it if I wanted to, and I don’t. Motivation is something I treasure," she muses. "Besides, for all its difficulties, this is the life I love. I’m surrounded with a team of dancers, singers and musicians I love. I’m supported by fans that have stuck by me through thick and thin. They mean the world to me. Now more than ever, performing, whether in the studio or onstage, brings me a satisfaction I find nowhere else."
The release of Jackson's Billboard cover comes just a day after the singer's 56th birthday, and she couldn't help but gush over her fans and their kind messages in a heartfelt Instagram post. "Thank u so much for all the birthday love. I love you more than you know," she wrote.
Earlier this year, ET spoke with Jackson's ex, Jermaine Dupri, and he only had nice things to say about the singer. Check out our exclusive interview: