NEW YORK • Just like how her partner Gerard Pique is a defensive rock at his Barcelona football club, singer Shakira also provides protective cover as a mother to their two sons, aged two and four.
The Colombian, who is a Grammy winner, is no longer very interested in scoring chart hits these days though music still exerts a strong pull on her, reported nbcnewyork.com.
The 40-year-old said: "For years, I spent my life pressing pause on those things that are now my priority, like having a family.
"I pressed pause on that. Now, I hit play."
She added: "I formed a family and it's the most wonderful thing, the most important thing to me. And before, I used to be the centre of my whole world and the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of my whole world, and now my kids and my family are that one priority."
But her brand of infectious music is apparently not an easy thing to shake off either for her.
She admitted: "I also wanted to attend to my own needs as a creator, as an artist, as a producer."
She has found a winning game plan that does not relegate her family's needs to the sidelines.
Shakira recently started releasing a song at a time but without dropping any hints that an album would eventually materialise.
"Instead of looking at this project like a big Everest mountain that I had to climb, I began to see it as a fun road trip", was how she balanced her passion with family duties.
"It was more fun than any of my previous albums because before I had many demands (and) requests by others," added the singer whose 11th album, El Dorado, is now out. Fielding mainly Spanish with some English songs, the album tackles genres such as pop, reggae and funk, with Shakira co-penning all the tracks.
But, still, the work was not a stroll in the park even if she could call all the shots.
In another interview with The New York Times, she recalled talking to Pique about her future direction. "When am I going to retire? And he said: 'When you don't have anything to say. But that moment hasn't come yet.'"
She added: "The creator inside of me was in desperate need of attention. But also my two-year-old was in the same need. The person, the mother, the creator - all of those little Shakiras were fighting inside of me, so it was very tumultuous."
But "when I realised the creator inside of me was also asking to be considered, my music became my escape".
"The studio became the place to let some steam off, away from everyday life as a mother - that became my hobby. And then it became a pleasure like all hobbies are. So now music is my hobby. Oh, I never thought I would say that," she said with a laugh. "It's crazy!"
Free from the need to do a lot of publicity tours to promote the album, she may yet find time to be a supporting act at the wedding of a famous footballer - Lionel Messi, Pique's teammate at Barcelona.
Speaking on the Argentine show Telenoche, she was asked if she would be attending the wedding this summer.
She is rumoured not to be on good terms with Messi's fiancee Antonella Roccuzzo, who is a close friend of Pique's former girlfriend Nuria Tomas.
Shakira replied without skipping a beat: "We have an excellent relationship and if I can go to her wedding, we will go because Gerard and Messi have been good friends since they were very young."