Madonna has confessed to The Sun she feels her “head is going to explode” from the stress of being a single mum after her divorce from Guy Ritchie.
The pop queen bared her soul in a world exclusive interview as she declared: “I’m not going to lie — it’s hard work having four kids and doing all the work I do.”
Her headaches over Lourdes, 15, Rocco, 12, David, six, and Mercy, five, are just the same as any divorcee holding down a job, according to the multi-millionairess.
And Madonna, 53, blasted critics of her parenting skills — fuming: “Everybody has something to say about the way I live my life.
“At the end of the day I’m doing my best. If people don’t like it, then that’s really their problem.”
Madonna said four years after her divorce from 43-year-old Brit film director Ritchie: “Sometimes I cope with it very well, sometimes it’s a struggle.”
The star has used her experiences as a lone parent as an inspiration for some of the tracks on her forthcoming album, MDNA.
Discussing song I Don’t Give A, she explained: “It’s about the life of a single mother.
“It’s a challenge juggling everything — multi-tasking is my middle name. I try to express that.”
But the song is also a clear broadside at Ritchie — Rocco’s dad. The lyrics include “I tried to be a good girl, I tried to be your wife”, and describe how she was “trying to be all you expected of me”.
And if that wasn’t explicit enough, she also raps about the “life of an ex-wife”, having “no time”, “doing ten things at once”, “custody” and “pre-nups”.
However, a bonus track on the album appears to show Madonna accepting at least some of the blame for the couple’s acrimonious split, describing how she was “cold” in an X-rated track called “I F***** Up”.
One line states: “I blamed you when things didn’t go my way. I could have just kept my big mouth shut.”
MDNA was completed immediately after Madonna had spent three years writing and directing her latest film W.E. — about Edward and Mrs Simpson.
And it was a welcome relief for the singer to be back in the studio. She said: “It was amazing. I like it — I like the intimacy of a recording studio and song-writing.
“I’m using a different part of my brain when I work on music versus than when I’m directing a film.
“There’s a billion more people (on set) and I don’t have that visceral outlet of being able to sing, scream and jump around.
“It was very different. I love doing both but it was nice to get to the simplicity of song-writing after three years of writing a script, directing, editing and talking about my film.
“To sit down and play my guitar and sing a song — I almost cried.”
The album comes out on March 26, but her latest single Give Me All Your Luvin’ was unveiled to a select audience of 114 million viewers at half-time during last month’s Super Bowl.
Madonna hopes her incredible work ethic — this is her 12th studio album in a 30-year career — remains an example to women around the world.
Speaking to The Sun from her New York apartment — while taking a break from son David’s French homework — she said: “I hope I’m a role model. I hope I give other girls a voice, women a voice, other women someone to look up to and admire. I keep rolling with the punches and trying to have integrity.
“And I hope I inspire women and give them strength to deal with life no matter what comes their way.”
The next job lined up for the workaholic superstar is protecting her younger kids from some of MDNA’s more adult tracks — including I F***** Up and Gang Bang. But she revealed that it might be easier said than done.
The American icon explained: “Every time I get in the car the radio is on. It’s quite shocking that my five and six-year-old children know the words to every single song on the radio.
“They haven’t heard my entire album, they definitely haven’t heard Gang Bang.
“I doubt that will ever get played on the radio.”
The star’s eldest, whom she calls Lola, is studying at a performing arts school in New York. She has recorded backing vocals on the track Superstar. But her mum is still determined to protect her, too — from the record labels and big film studios who are already sniffing around.
Madonna said: “Yes, she’s my background singer. She just came over to the studio that day. Then I said, ‘Oh, can you sing this part?’ and she agreed to.
“She has a very good voice. She’s quite shy about it and won’t admit it. Lots of people are knocking on my door to meet her about everything, movies and what-not.
“But she’s not really interested in any of it. She just wants to go to school. She says to me, ‘Mum, I just want to be a normal kid. I’m not ready for any of that’.
“I respect that, and if she ever wants to work with me on any level I welcome it.
“But otherwise I leave her to her homework and school.”
Speaking on the Graham Norton Show a few weeks ago, Madonna admitted she enjoyed the anonymity of a recent skiing trip when she could hide behind her goggles without being recognised. And she is determined to give her kids the same protection. She said: “We just try to have as normal a life as possible.
“My life with them at home is really just about schoolwork and health and the after-school lessons just like everybody else.”
She added: “Most of them go to a French school. My French is not very impressive, but it’s good enough. Everyone in my house speaks perfect French but me.
“I’m getting better at understanding when they’re not talking about their homework.
“I’m now picking up things and saying, ‘What did you say?’. I know the necessary swear words, so they have to be careful.”
Madonna’s own choice of language has sparked some controversy.
The album title MDNA has led to critics accusing the star of making light of MDMA — the chemical used in the illegal Class A drug Ecstasy.
But Madonna quickly brushes off the accusations, insisting: “It’s an anagram of my name. I don’t really think about controversy — I think about irony.”
In her three-decade reign as the undisputed queen of pop, Madonna has never shied away from controversy.
And she has lost none of her appetite for a good verbal scrap — as she demonstrated when she sprang to the defence of Brit star Adele after Karl Lagerfeld called her “too fat”.
In Day Two of an exclusive interview with The Sun, Madonna branded the legendary fashion designer’s comments “horrible” and “ridiculous”.
Last month, the eccentric Chanel designer claimed Tottenham-born Adele was “a little too fat” when he guest-edited a French magazine.
But Madonna, 53, stuck up for the Grammy-winner, hitting back: “That’s horrible. That’s ridiculous, that’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
“I don’t like it when anybody says anything bad about anyone — I don’t like it. Adele’s a great talent and how much she weighs has nothing to do with it.”
Madonna, who has won seven Grammys and two Brit awards, explained how she has sustained a career in music spanning more than a quarter of a century — and said it is decent advice for Adele, 23, to stay on the right track.
She said: “The thing for Adele to remember is at the end of the day, whether you rise or fall, it has so much to do with how you sustain yourself and keep your integrity and your inner strength.
“It is all about who you surround yourself with — friends and people who really do care about you, and care about your well-being beyond being a superstar. That’s the most important thing.”
Over the past six months, two of the brightest female solo stars have passed away in tragic circumstances.
Last July Amy Winehouse died aged just 27 after suffering a public battle with drugs and alcohol.
Then last month Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel bath in the Beverly Hilton in LA. She was 48.
Like all music fans, Madonna was shocked by the deaths before their time.
She said: “I, probably like everybody else, was hit by this shocking sense of disbelief – especially with Whitney Houston.
“It had not been a secret, the struggles Amy had been through — both brilliant, brilliant artists and obviously both huge losses.
“But when these things happen, I’m always shocked by the first thing you say — ‘It’s such a loss’ — which doesn’t quite cover it.
“Then you reflect and you think, ‘How did it happen? How did the people around them allow it to happen?’
“We’ve lost so many great artists that way when you think about it. So history just kind of repeats itself over and over.
“One thing I was struck by with Whitney Houston is I remember she sort of came out as a singer around the same time I did.
“I remember looking at her singing and hearing people talk about her, and just thinking, ‘Oh my God. She’s such a beautiful woman and my God, what an incredible voice. I wish I could sing like that.’
“I just remember being extremely envious of her and also touched by her innocence.
“I was watching a documentary about Serge Gainsbourg, the French songwriter, and there’s a famous talk show he did that happened a while back when Whitney was just starting.
“It was funny, because I’d just watched it the week before she died, where he was making a kind of play for her on national television and he was basically saying in French that he wanted to ‘f’ her — and the look of shock on her face…
“I mean, she was so innocent and so young, and so cute, and really she blushed.
“And I was thinking, ‘We are all innocent at one stage in our life. It’s just interesting, the paths our lives take.’
“I was struck by that — how well she started and where she ended up and the tragedy of it.”
Madonna is about to release her twelfth studio album, MDNA, and kicked off the promo cycle for the release with a high-profile gig during half-time of the Super Bowl last month.
The gig, with Brit M.I.A and New York rapper Nicki Minaj, sparked huge controversy in the US when M.I.A flicked a middle finger at the camera.
If you blinked, you would have missed it. But it didn’t stop a conservative audience complaining in their thousands — with a very different finger of blame pointing at Madonna.
But the mum-of-four has mixed views about the uproar. She said: “Well, you know, the thing is we were in NFL territory.
“We were in the sacred ground of football and I think that it’s a very important and well-viewed event.
“It was accepted and understood by everyone performing that we would be — what’s the word I’m looking for — politically correct.
“I think the NFL were more worried about me than anything else, thinking that I was going to do something crazy or provocative. And I really had no intention of doing something shocking.
“I was working too hard in putting the show together to think about how I was going to do something to p*ss people off.
“They fought hard for me to get me more rehearsal time, and to give me what I wanted creatively for the show.
“I felt like I owed them to give them back what they wanted.
“So on that level, I was upset because I knew that I got some people into trouble that really went forward for me.
“And I don’t wanna do that — I don’t want anybody to get in trouble at my expense because they worked so hard to give me what I wanted, so there’s that side of it.
“On the other hand, I didn’t know M.I.A did it, and everybody was outraged about it so I viewed the footage and I kind of almost missed it.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, okay’. It didn’t seem like that big a deal at the end of the day, so there’s two sides to the story.
“You know, that’s her thing, it’s pretty punk rock and actually, in the bigger picture of things, much crazier things have happened.”
Fans around the UK and Ireland have already bought tickets to see Madonna perform this summer in London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
And she hopes the shows will cause as much of a stir with her own fans in the stadium.
She said: “Oh God, I hope somebody is going to give the middle finger at my show. It probably won’t be me because I’ve done it too many times.
“I hope I have some ideas. The creative well is dry but I just started rehearsals last week and mostly I have been focusing on music.
“I do have ideas and I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m incredibly anxiety-ridden about it.”
There is no sign of Madonna packing up her fishnets and leotard either — even though she has passed the half century.
And fans will be pleased to hear she is as motivated as ever to carry on her illustrious career.
She said: “I guess I love doing what I do. I have a voice, I have opinions, I have things I wanna say.
“I love music, I love telling stories. So I guess as long as I feel that way I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
© The Sun