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Janet Jackson has lived many lives. The singer, dancer, and actress from Gary, Indiana has spent decades in the public eye, becoming one of the biggest icons in music. Things haven’t always been easy for Jackson, who recently lost her father Joe, but at age 52 the entertainer is finally figuring out what makes her happy. The ESSENCE cover star revealed in the August issue that it’s work, her relationship with God, and, most importantly, her son that truly make her heart sing.
“The height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo,” she wrote in a letter for ESSENCE. “Or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness. When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere.” Jackson welcomed a son, Eissa Al Mana, last January, sharing an adorable first photo of her baby boy three months later And the pop icon is already a pro at motherhood; even though — like any other mom — she has her hands full. Jackson’s brother Tito told PEOPLE back in September, “She’s doing all the baby talk to the baby and playing with him constantly — all that stuff. She changes all the diapers — she does it all. She’s a real mother. She loves it. I asked her, ‘How are you getting along with this?’ and she said, ‘Tito, I love it.’ She just loves her baby.” Jackson was even snapped on a playdate with fellow singer Ciara in October as the two families strolled through Disneyland. “Happiness is in gratitude to God,” Jackson added in her ESSENCE letter. “Happiness is saying, ‘Thank you, God, for my life, my energy and my capacity to grow in love.'”