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Madonna Interview : People

Madonna - People / September 18 2017

As for what drew her to her children: “It’s inexplicable. It’s like saying, ‘Why do you fall in love with the people you fall in love with?’ ” she says. “You look into the eyes of somebody, you feel their soul, you feel touched by them— that’s it.” It was the same magic with Estere and Stella after she met them 2 1⁄2 years ago. This time she spoke to her kids about expanding the family once more. “Mercy and David were excited,’” she says. For her older kids, “there might have been [a feeling of ] ‘Oh, we have to share you with more people’—not jealousy, but an adjustment,” she says. “Eventually everyone was supportive. Lola said, ‘Mom, if that’s what you want and it’s going to make you happy, let’s go.’ ”

When asked if she’ll adopt again, “I never say never— about anything,” says Madonna, “but I have my hands full, mostly with my oldest children right now.” Lourdes is in her senior year of college, and Rocco is living primarily with his dad in London after the exes waged a headline-making custody battle last year. “I had this funny notion that when your children get older, they learn to take care of themselves and it gets easier,” she says. “But actually the older they get, the more challenging it gets—because now they’re becoming adults, and they really need guidance.” The star admits one of her biggest challenges as a mom remains coparenting. Her philosophy? “I’m in charge! I’m the boss!” she says with a laugh. More seriously: “Lola has a different father than Rocco, and I have four adopted kids, so there’s a lot of outside influences. I’m trying to make sure I impart the same wisdom and love to everyone. I’m bad-cop. I’m the one that says no,” adds the singer, who says David and Mercy don’t have phones yet (even though “their friends all do”). “I accept that role. I’m not the popular parent.”

Nevertheless she’s a proud one. “The greatest accomplishment of my life is to be the mother I never knew,” Madonna captioned a Mother’s Day post in May. Like most moms, her Instagram feed is filled with pictures of her children: Lourdes’s recent modeling campaign, Rocco painting, David on the soccer pitch (Madonna and the family will live in Portugal, where he’s going to a soccer academy), Mercy with her gymnastics medals and silly photos with the twins. It’s only when the interview is winding down that the mega-mom shows a flash of her famous alter ego. Asked for a selfie, Madonna pulls out her iPhone and says with a smile: “Strike a pose.” Mambo’s orders.

© PEOPLE