Parenting

Heartfelt Quotes About Motherhood From Mariska Hargitay

The “Law & Order: SVU” star and her husband, Peter Hermann, have three kids.
Peter Hermann, Andrew, Amaya, Mariska Hargitay and August attend Mariska Hargitay's star ceremony on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 8, 2013.
Peter Hermann, Andrew, Amaya, Mariska Hargitay and August attend Mariska Hargitay's star ceremony on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 8, 2013.

Mariska Hargitay plays a strong working mom on TV, and it’s clear she draws inspiration from her personal life.

The “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star and her husband, Peter Hermann, have two sons, August and Andrew, and a daughter, Amaya. Since becoming a mom in 2006, she’s opened up about pregnancy, adoption, work-life balance and more.

In honor of her birthday, here are 17 quotes about motherhood from Hargitay.

On Modeling Kindness

“I try to model it for him every day. I teach him what it means to be kind, such as sharing, helping his sister pick up toys, and letting her choose first what she wants to do. I continue to build on it so it becomes a child’s mindset to be considerate. My dad always taught me that being kind is the way to live your life. He always said, if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. Just smiling at someone walking down the street can make the person’s day. It’s all about paying it forward.”

On Affirming Her Kids

“I use words. I say things like ‘I am really proud of you’ or ‘I love how you are thinking. I love how you make people feel.’ I also say, ‘Seeing you do something nice makes me feel really good.’ August is a compassionate guy.”

On Becoming A Mom

“Nobody wanted to be pregnant more than me. From the minute I found out, I was wearing full-on maternity pants. My stomach was totally flat, mind you, but I was just so excited.”

On How She Grows As A Parent

“The thing that’s made me a better parent is my kids. Because they taught me to really listen. My husband is my North Star, and my kids are my teachers.”

On Keeping Her Family Organized

“We have everything on a big calendar, which is color-coordinated. There’s one color for each child. The babies have classes three times a week, so those are in one category, and because August is older, he has his own thing. Aside from having a lot of communication so we don’t drop the ball, I’m also a fan of putting things in my iPhone and iPad.”

On Pregnancy

“First time pregnant, you’re like, I gotta eat more! I have to make sure he has enough of every single food group! I did get into eating too much. This pregnancy was really hard for me at the end. I wasn’t mobile. Next time, I want to keep myself as strong as possible, so everything will go easier for me.”

On Becoming A Mom Later In Life

“You know, I think because I became a mom later in life, everything in life means more. Every day is deeper and richer and more soulful. Life is more sacred with him. Therefore, work is so much more now because I understand and value everything a little bit more.”

On Favorite Children’s Books

“Amaya loves ‘That’s Not My Mermaid.’ I think we read it 10 times a day.”

On Adoption

“My story is a little different than most. In our case the stars aligned in a different way. August came home from a playdate one day and said, ‘I want a baby Iris.’ Turns out, the playdate he was on, the child had a baby sister named Iris. When he said that, my husband, Peter, and I looked at each other and replied, ‘It is so interesting you said that.’ When we went ahead with the adoption, August thought it was his idea. Then he wanted a little boy. We said, really? A miracle happened and our second son, Andrew, fell out of the sky and into our home.”

On Having Help

“Since I usually travel for work, when Peter can’t come, I need the extra set of hands. I think that is one of my greatest luxuries. I’m always in awe when I see moms, especially moms with multiple children, doing it all by themselves. They are the heroes, the superstars. When I grow up I want to be just like them.”

On Family

“Our family is so perfect, or at least perfect for me. Together we’re just this whole, happy, joyful, chaotic, crazy unit. I’ve never known anything that was more right ... The beauty is that families are made in so many different ways, and that was my reality as a child. Growing up, my family was made in such an interesting and unique way, and now I have that with my own family, and so I understand it. It’s been amazing.”

On Raising Different Kids

“My kids are so different, so they respond to different things. We do a Big Muscles class for Andrew, who was born premature. That class has helped him with balance and development. My daughter, on the other hand, loves music. She comes alive and just starts dancing when the music and drumming starts. My kids are also in swimming classes, which is so important. Water is a fear for any parent, for obvious reasons. I was taught at an early age, and August is a swimmer, so I need to know that all my kids know what to do in water. Both of my little ones know how to blow bubbles and go underwater. Not only do they love it, but it also gives me great peace. All three of them are so different, and I love learning what each one of them likes, so I can encourage and support them.”

On Preparing For A Second Adoption

“If anything, we were in sync. It was sort of like divine intervention. The timing was perfect for us to have more children. We weren’t expecting our second adoption at all. It was a huge surprise to everyone, but it was so great for August, who had been saying he wanted a little brother.”

On Babyproofing

“Yes, one of the things I request is that they remove the normal glass table (or any low tables with sharp edges) from the room and replace it with a cushioned ottoman. My pediatrician told me that most toddler head injuries are caused by bumping into tables or tripping and falling onto them.”

On Juggling Fame And Motherhood

“I pride myself on being August’s mom. I think having a baby ― especially one that’s happy ― levels the playing field. Regardless of our careers, when it comes to being parents, we share the same profession. We are all in it together. I am always so grateful for all the moms I meet that are willing to share information. No matter how fancy our job or what people project onto you, all of a sudden you’re just a mommy and I love that.”

On Body Image

“After getting pregnant I felt so different about my body. I felt like it was a sanctuary, like August’s house. It was like, somebody lives there now ― I’ve got to keep it nice and strong and healthy for him. And so now I’m thinking that someone else is going to live there someday soon, so I’ve got to get it ready. It’s very exciting ... For me, it was never about how I looked. I’m a mom now … I feel like a superhero! ... After my C-section, I had a pouch on my belly for a long time, which has started going away, but all I can say is that it was a badge of honor. I was so proud of it. I felt like I joined the coolest club in the world ― the mom’s club.”

On Her Son’s Big Brother Role

“I think he feels very powerful. He’s starting to say now, ‘We are three, and four is a more even number.’ He feels there should be two boys and two girls.”