Queen of pop on her family life
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."