Q&A With Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles
Over the last year this country music star has given birth to a baby and a new solo album.
Your son, Magnus, is now 11 months old. What's been the biggest revelation about being a new mom?
Children require you to be truly present in the moment. I tend to be one of those people who thinks about four to five steps ahead. That has served me well in my life and in my career, and in my success. But when your child has a need, it's all about him. It helps with your perspective. You don't have time for a lot of superfluous stuff, not even your own. It really is like a fire for the intellect: It cleans things out and lets you know what's really important.
What's been the hardest part of parenting?
The sleep! I've gone without sleep before but never really seen what this kind of sleep deprivation can do. They talk about mommy brain and searching for words? I've had moments where I literally laugh at myself. I am a woman who works with words for a living and I can't come up with the word "mirror"? "Look in the... look in the...check in the...whatever!" It's ridiculous!
How did you choose Magnus' name?
Back in 2010, we [Nettles and Sugarland partner Kristian Bush] appeared on CNN's Heroes show, hosted by Anderson Cooper, which highlights humanitarian organizations and philanthropists throughout the world. There was a gentleman from Scotland whose first name was Magnus. [Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, whose nonprofit, Mary's Meals, provides free daily meals to 400,000 children worldwide.] He was standing there in his kilt, talking about this wonderful organization, and I thought, "Magnus -- that's a really good name!" I wasn't pregnant yet but even then, my husband and I had been talking about when we did have children, we'd want an "M" name, because his last name is Miller. I thought, "Justin will love that name, it sounds so strong!" And from that point forward it was our top contender for a boy.
You're a pretty devoted nursing mom. How has breastfeeding gone for you?
I'm in the lucky camp that it came easily for me. He and I had a deal before he was born: I told him that he could cook and stay in there as long as he wanted, as long as he came out with a sweet demeanor and latched like it was his job. Not only does he latch like it's his job, he does not take a bottle, he will not suck a pacifier, he will not suck a finger. He is a mommy-booby boy for sure.
Have you written any songs for Magnus yet?
On this album [That Girl, her first solo album], I have a couple of songs inspired by giving birth and having a child for the first time, and the deep, deep love and the extreme change it is. But I didn't want the whole album to be an album of lullabies; we're all many-faceted people, so I wanted to have a well-rounded album that spoke to a lot of subjects and topics. I also write fun songs throughout the day. There's one song, "You Are So Precious to Me," that I've sung for him since he was little, and he just lights up and smiles. Hey, I've written songs about constipation!