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Madonna Interview : Us Weekly

Indeed, when Mazar gave Rocco his first haircut, she endured the watchful glare of his nervous mother. “As I trimmed,” Mazar recalls, “she said. ‘If you cut him. I’ll f—ing kill you.'”

Though she’s as tough as ever, Madonna is in many ways not the same woman who dropped out of the University of Michigan to seek fame in 1978. Unless she hears one of her old songs on the radio (“I think, Damn, that’s good,” she admits). Madonna doesn’t even think about her early or middle-period material. much less perform it. Nor is she so absorbed with her own image, so determined to be on the verge of the next Big Thing. “Ten years ago you’d ask her to recommend a personal trainer,” says her longtime backup singer Nikki Harris. “Now you call her with any ache or pain, and shell have the perfect doctor.”

With that evolution, say friends, she seems to have found the inner peace and joy she longed for back when she was writhing onstage in a wedding dress or simulating oral sex with a soda bottle in the movie Truth or Dare or posing nude in her Sex book. “She’s grown up,” says Harris, “Motherhood has definitely calmed her.”

So, apparently, has turning 40. “Yes, there are those moments when I can’t believe I’m as old as I am,” says Madonna. “But I feel better physically than I did 10 years ago. I’m doing more. I’m more fulfilled than 10 years ago. And I don’t really have those moments when I think, Oh, God, l’in missing something.”

Certainly children have filled some of the perceived void, but so has meeting Ritchie, her first serious boyfriend since her breakup with Lourdes’s father, personal-trainer-turned-actor Carlos Leon. “It’s always been difficult for her so find a man,” says friend Sting whose wife, Trudie Styler, intentionally sat Madonna and Ritchie next to each other at a luncheon two years ago in England. “She needs someone powerful, and I’m spoken for. But we weren’t really playing Cupid.

For about a year, she and Ritchie kept up a relationship that Madonna calls long-distance angst.” Then it turned serious, and warm. “I felt like he’s my equal, and that hard to find,” she says. Even Leon likes him. “It’s shocking how civilized they are to each other,” says Madonna. But friends think the chemistry between Madonna and Ritchie is perfect. “This one seems different than past relationships,” says Mazar. “He’s definitely giving her a run for her money. He’s smart, he’s busy, and he’s got a career. He keeps her on her toes.”

But he also knocks her off her feet every so often with gifts like the hefty diamond she has on her ring finger. “I had absolutely no idea it was coming,” says Madonna, recalling the day she brought Rocco home from the hospital. She had just sat down in front of her breast pump when she spotted a paper bag on the table. “It was all crumpled up, and I though, Ugh, you know, can’t my housekeeper tidy up around here?”

Madonna - Us Weekly / October 02 2000

“I almost threw the bag away,” she continues. “Then I noticed there was something in it. There was a little box. Then I saw a card. In it was a really sweet letter that he wrote to me, about everything we’ve been through, and my birthday, and the baby, and how happy he was. I thought he had bought me some really nice earrings or something. Then I opened it up. It was a diamond ring, and I screamed. It was shocking. I’ve never had a diamond ring!”

Never? “Even when I was married. I had a simple wedding band,” says Madonna, who divorced Sean Penn after four years, in 1989. “I never liked big rocks on my finger — well, I do now.” Is marriage next – perhaps around Christmas, as the London papers predict? “I wouldn’t say it’s an engagement ring – at least not right now,” she says. “We talk about marriage, but we can’t decide whether it’s something that’s necessary.”

Nor would it be such a big change. “I know that I can’t have a proper relationship, have a child with someone and share a life with someone unless I’m willing to nuke changes in my life,” says Madonna. “And I started doing that a year ago. We already live like we’re married.”

Just then Ritchie – in a white T-shirt and navy shorts — pokes his head into the living room, surprising Madonna. “Go away,” she says, embarrassed. “We’re talking about you.” Then Madonna reconsiders. “No, first tell me how much of that conversation you heard?”

“I didn’t hear anything,” he says.