Mariska Hargitay: 'Having a Child Changes Everything'

07/16/2009 at 04:00 PM ET
Courtesy Redbook

The ability of a baby to heal the childhood wounds of his or her parents is a phenomenon that Mariska Hargitay knows all too well. Having lost her mom — actress Jayne Mansfield — in a car accident while still a toddler, Mariska is now mom to a toddler herself, 3-year-old August Miklos Friedrich. “Becoming a parent erased many of my negative childhood feelings and filled them with something new,” she tells the August issue of Redbook.

Many of those feelings were recently dredged up again, however. In January, the 45-year-old actress learned that she was suffering from a collapsed lung, and in March following surgery, her lung collapsed again. “I just thought, ‘Please make me better, please make me better,'” she recalls. “I got really scared that maybe something else was wrong.”

“All those old fears about my mom and my grandfather [who also died at an early age] came shooting up. Having a child changes everything. All of a sudden you have so much to lose, so much to live for. Sometimes things in life happen that allow us to understand our priorities very clearly. Ultimately you can see those as gifts.”

In fact, Mariska says she feels “like the luckiest person in the world” after all she’s been through. “I think you learn to feel grateful when you are exposed at such a young age to the fact that bad things can happen,” she explains. Like most moms, however, Mariska admits that she fears failure — “all the time.”

“It’s why being a mother is so loaded. A friend said to me recently, ‘You’re a really great mother,’ and I said ‘What?’ I feel like I’ve been preparing all my life, but I want to do all of it right.”

Although she has since returned to the set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where she sustained her injury, Mariska has definite ideas about what she would do with a year off. First and foremost would be more time with the Joyful Heart Foundation, which she founded to provide support for women who have been sexually assaulted. Then, she says, it would be time for some rest and relaxation with the people who matter to her most. “I’d go to Italy and take cooking classes, swim with my son,” she reveals. “I’d eat, see the countryside, and be with my husband (actor and writer Peter Hermann) and kid the whole time.”

Source: Redbook, August issue

— Missy

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 9 comments

gaia's mom on

I loveee herrrrrr. I wish she made movies, she’s fantastic.

sam riley on

I hope the best for her. I love her character on Law&Order I like the fact that she stays out of all the Hollywood Drama.

Shannon on

She is my favorite!!!! She just seems so down to earth to me🙂

FC on

I loved her interview. Glad to hear from her after that health scare she had. And yep, I still want to take off with Peter and August.😀

Vanessa on

There is not one thing I can find to hate this woman. I love the fact that she is so down to earth and is never in the media about being a diva etc (unlike some Hollywood celebs).

I recently heard that she had a fall on the set of SVU. Hope she is well.

Looking forward to Season 10 of SVU.

Kelsey on

I just love her! She is so beautiful inside and out; I admire her for knowing which priorities should come first.

melissa on

I love her! I was so happy to see her on the cover of Redbook when mine came in the mail.🙂

Katie on

she is the most aspirational, down to earth, and genuine person that has ever come out of hollywood! I cant get enough of this woman. You can see thru her character in SVU how compassionate she is. NO doubt if I saw her as a mom in action I would think that she was a wonderful mother.

Ahisha on

I’m only 14 years old, but Mariska Hargitay is such a Rolemodel, Inspiration and Idol to me. I think she’s gorgeous, in and out. I’m in love with all she’s doing to help people. I inspire the way she cares. I totally am a huge ‘SVU’ fan and I adore Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler. I live in The Netherlands but I try to stay tuned with everything that is going on around Mariska’s personal life and L&O SVU.
Mariska is stunnig, August is so adorable and Peter is incredibly hot ;] A perfect life for Mariska. And I think she totally deserves it! She’s an amazing human being, more power to her!❤

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