Three months after finishing her Re-Invention Tour, Madonna is enjoying quiet time with her family in London. How quiet? A moment ago she was learning the sentimental Irish ode “Danny Boy” on one of the 15 guitars in her office. Children, in fact, are on her mind. She’s just published her fourth book for young readers, The Adventures of Abdi, and, at 46, she says she wouldn’t mind getting pregnant again. She talked about her plans with PEOPLE’s Todd Gold.
First of all, what’s with “Danny Boy”? Have you gone mushy?
I’m all over the place. I play all kinds of stuff. I’m writing for this musical I’m working on, based on the life story of Texas Guinan, a woman who was a silent movie star and hell-raiser during Prohibition. It’s a good story, but I don’t know if it’s acceptable or not. I have to record another album, but I don’t really like the idea of just making another record, So I’m throwing a lot of balls in the air and will see what happens.
Tell me about writing children’s books.
My focus is to turn The English Roses [her first children’s book] into a world of adventure and inspiration for girls. I want to turn it into a film. I want there to be an “English Roses”] column where girls can write in and ask questions. I want to be able to help girls and in the process help myself.
What do you need help with these days?
I need to calm myself. I don’t have a manager anymore, so now I’m my own everything. Then I’m the person who’s standing at the door when my husband comes home from work, waiting to rub his feet. And I’m the person who helps my kids with their homework and puts them to bed. I’m exhausted. That’s really my problem now. I no longer have time to be creative. That’s why I was so happy to be playing my guitar today.
What’s your response to Elton John’s saying that you lip-synched?
When I read about it I was surprised because I’ve always thought of Elton as a friend. I’ve always had friendly exchanges. I’ve had tea at his country house. I’ve had dinner at his house in the city. I’ve gone out to dinner at restaurants and we have mutual friends. He was obviously having a bad day.
You were just inducted into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame.
It was very emotional. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable in England, like it’s my home and I’m welcome here, so it meant a lot to me. And Gwyneth [Paltrow] and Stella [McCartney] did a tribute film to me that was hysterical, so I was surrounded by people I love.
Do you give parenting advice to Gwyneth?
Yeah. I tell her to stop trying to be Supermom. She’s a hardworking girl and she didn’t have a nanny for ages. I kept asking how she did it. She’s a very good mother.
Now Stella is pregnant.
I know. It’s great.
What’s in the water here?
I don’t know, but I’m going to be taking a drink from that glass.
Does that mean you’re going to try to get pregnant again?
It means I’m going to have fun with my husband and see what happens.
During your tour, there were rumors that your study of Kabbalah and your teachers caused tension between you and Guy. True?
No. If anything, it’s helped our marriage. No one’s going to write anything good about Kabbalah; actually, they will but not for a while.
Everything seems to be going so well for you—from family to career to spirituality. What are your bad habits?
I worry about everything—if I’m exposing my children to the right things, if I said the right thing in an interview, if I spent too much money on the furniture for the house I’m renovating in the country, if I’m taking care of all the people I’m supposed to care for. I’m a worrywart. I’m really a lot like everybody else.
Does that mean you also worry about your butt getting bigger every year?
Yeah, I worry about that too. I really worry about that.