Screen star Mariska Hargitay is the daughter of Hollywood royalty, a successful actress, and an impassioned activist — but her most beloved role is that of mom to her three kids. In an emotional new interview, the 54-year-old opened up about her home life and “perfect” family with her husband, Peter Hermann. “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,” she gushed.

“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,” Mariska told People. “Peter and I, we’re so different that it’s been amazing how we complement each other. He knows everything I don’t.”

mariska hargitay family getty images

Mariska, Peter, and their three kids in 2013.

Two years after Mariska and Peter tied the knot in August 2004, the couple welcomed their first child, son August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, 11. Then, in April 2011, Mariska and her husband adopted their now seven-year-old daughter, Amaya Josephine Hermann, and the pair was able to attend her birth. In October 2011, Mariska’s family was completed when she and Peter adopted their third child, son Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann, 6.

“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,” Mariska, whose parents are late actress Jayne Mansfield and late bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, said.

mariska hargitay son getty images

Mariska and her son August in 2018.

Though Mariska is proud to be a working mom, she has admitted it’s sometimes difficult to balance starring on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with raising three young kids. “I get jealous that other people get to take August to school and pick him up. It’s hard for me to go to his school and not know all the parents. They all know one another and it’s a community. I can’t always be a part of that. You can’t have everything, though,” she told Momtastic in a previous interview.