Alicia Keys learned how to properly respect herself after becoming a mother.
The No One singer has sons Egypt and Genesis with husband Swizz Beatz, and after realizing how precious family time was, she finally started to say no when career or other ventures would take her away from her boys.
"I think that was the biggest change for me when I had my first son," she tells Citizens of Humanity magazine. "I really kind of respected myself for the first time. I know that might sound weird, but I feel like in a lot of ways I did: I respected my time for the first time, and I respected the value of what that meant and what I was giving up when I spent it incorrectly or when I used it correctly. I just knew when to draw the line more, when I didn't know how to do that before."
"I didn't feel concerned about what I was going to miss out on or what I was going to lose by not doing whatever," she continues. "Like choosing to be present. That was a big lesson - you grow up. You need to grow up like that."
Alicia was also struck by how empowered she felt as a mother.
"It's wild," she says. "It's amazing. So good. But it's true, it's just crazy. Especially when they first come into the world and you're like, 'Wow, they're so delicate, like, they need everything. They can't even move yet. They can't eat without me. They won't live without me. Like, if I don't make sure that they're good they won't live.' It's pretty powerful."
The singer is also dedicated to nurturing her relationship with rap producer Swizz, who she began dating in 2008, because staying connected is critical to the survival of any romance.
"I think the most important thing in any relationship is presence - being present and really choosing to make the time and take the time for the people that you love; not letting everything else be more important, or everyone else be more important, not letting a part of your job be more important or a part of your career be more important," she adds.
Alicia understands how people can become complacent in long-term relationships, so she and Swizz always take time to communicate their thoughts and feelings to one another.
"There's no way in the world you're in a relationship for seven years, 10 years, and you're going to be the same person you were at the beginning..." she continues. "In fact, that would be horrible... So you're both growing and both evolving and learning more about yourself and learning more about each other, and I think when you give each other the opportunity to continue to know each other, that really strengthens it..."
The couple will celebrate its sixth wedding anniversary on 31 July (16).