She's a perfectionist who frets over a costume button at 4am and a sex symbol who's also a presidential role model. Here, Beyonce opens up about marriage, motherhood, and the pressure of the spotlight.

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the november 2013 issue of marie claire with beyonce on the cover.
The November 2013 issue of marie claire with Beyonce on the cover.

Beyonce is 32 and in the midst of perhaps the craziest stretch of her career.

Earlier this year performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Obama's inauguration. Soon after, she headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII. Then there was the release of Life Is But a Dream, a revealing HBO documentary that Beyoncé codirected. Also: new music from the platinum trio of her youth, Destiny's Child. Plus: Beyoncé's latest solo album, and a worldwide tour, The Mrs Carter Show.

beyonce onstage during her world tour.
Beyonce onstage during her world tour. Photo by Getty Images.

It is a return to the spotlight that feels less like a cautious reentry than a fusillade of shock and awe. Beyoncé will be in your life like she's never been before, her music and visage and essence practically dropping down thechimney and seeping up through the floorboards.

The scrutiny will be intense, and Beyoncé admits she is still capable of anxiety—those feelings never go away. “I'm still completely nervous,” she says. “I still feel pressure.”

Even Beyoncé cannot insulate herself from every crazy and idle rumor. When she encounters a story about herself on the Internet, she reads only the story. She stops there. She doesn't let herself scroll down into the comments sections, which have a tendency to become cruel, ad hominem free-for-alls.

“Don't scroll down!” Beyoncé advises, laughing. “You're definitely going to get your feelings hurt.”

But outside this little room, there's a gentle, sweet, unmistakable noise. The soft cry of a baby. And though Beyoncé has started a thought about her new album, she pauses and listens and just visibly melts. And in this moment, it becomes clear that while her career and her business are vital and essential, the life of Beyoncé Knowles has forever changed.

“She's about to go to sleep,” Beyoncé says, beaming.

She, of course, is Blue Ivy Carter, born to Beyoncé and her husband, the hip-hop mogul Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z, on January 7, 2012, in New York City, to the breathless rush of public attention that usually attends a royal birth. Now the curly-haired one-year-old is Beyoncé's light, her constant companion, the adorable darling making cameos on her Tumblr.

“She's my road dog,” Beyoncé says. “She's my homey, my best friend.”

In the past, Beyoncé has been guarded about details of her personal life, but motherhood appears to be a subject too powerful for her to completely hold in.

“I felt very maternal around eight months,” she remembers. “And I thought I couldn't become any more until I saw the baby...But it happened during my labor because I had a very strong connection with my child. I felt like when I was having contractions, I envisioned my child pushing through a very heavydoor. And I imagined this tiny infant doing all the work, so I couldn't think about my own pain...We were talking. I know it sounds crazy, but I felt a communication.”

To read the full interview with Beyonce, grab a copy of the November issue of marie claire or download it for your iPad here.

Find out what's inside the November issue here.

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