Shakira is opening up about her recent split from partner Gerard Piqué and how music has been vital for her to get through "her darkest hour" and show up the best she can for her children.
The 45-year-old Colombian singer spoke to Elle about how she's been getting through her difficult breakup, after it was announced in June that she and the Spanish soccer player had called it quits, and dealing with a resulting custody battle of the couple's two sons Milan, 9, and Sasha, 7. While creating new music has been a big part of Shakira's healing journey, it is the livelihood of her boys that she remains most focused on.
"I think that music is a life raft. There have been days when I had to pick up the pieces of me from the floor. And the only way to do that, to actually do that, has been through music. You know, to really, like, put myself back together and to see myself in the mirror and know that I am a mom and my kids depend on me," she said, noting that her career often felt like a distraction from motherhood prior. "Sometimes I dreaded my work so much in the past because I just wanted to be there for my kids. I mean, I just wanted to cuddle with my kids in bed a little bit longer. And then I had to, like, get up and shoot a video and fulfill my obligations. But now I’m so thankful for my work, the possibility that it gives us to put ourselves back together and to realize who we are and why we’re here on this planet — what’s our purpose, our mission."
Pouring herself into her craft has been a good distraction from the negative press surrounding the end of her relationship. However, protecting her children from the chaos is an added challenge.
"It’s been tough not only for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly difficult. I have paparazzi camping outside, in front of my house, 24/7. And there’s not a place where I can hide from them with my kids, except for my own house. You know, we can’t take a walk in the park like a regular family or go have an ice cream or do any activity without paparazzi following us. So it’s hard," Shakira explained. "And I’ve tried to conceal the situation in front of my kids. I try to do it and to protect them, because that’s my number one mission in life. But then they hear things in school from their friends or they come across some disagreeable, unpleasant news online, and it just affects them, you know?"
The local press in Spain, where she calls Barcelona her home, has even become "invasive for my kids," she said, as photographers have interrupted their daily life.
"They don’t deserve to feel observed or watched every second, photographed at school drop-off, or followed by paparazzi. They deserve a normal life. It’s just a total circus, and everyone is speculating about all of these aspects of our, and more importantly our children’s, lives, and a lot of it isn’t even true," she said. "Regardless of how things ended or how Gerard and I feel about each other as ex-partners, he is the father of my children. We have a job to do for these two incredible boys, and I have faith that we will figure out what is best for their future, their own dreams in life, and what is a fair solution for everyone involved. And I hope and would appreciate if we were given the space to do that privately."
She continued, "It’s really upsetting for two kids who are trying to process their parents’ separation. And sometimes I just feel like this is all a bad dream and that I’m going to wake up at some point. But no, it’s real."
While managing her own mental wellbeing through this has been a challenge, it is the priority that she places on her children that ultimately gets Shakira through.
"I just manage, I guess, reminding myself that I need to become an example for my kids, that I need to be what they want, what I want them to become," she said. "And I want to be there, also, for all the people who have shown me their love and support. That is my biggest strength. That’s my most powerful engine right now."
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