The activist says she and husband Matthew Gilmour will start a family "when Mother Nature calls"

By Jeff Nelson
May 09, 2014 02:40 PM
Stuart Ramson/UN Foundation

Elizabeth Smart has motherhood on her mind – but she and husband Matthew Gilmour aren’t starting a family just yet.

Instead, it will happen when it happens, she told PEOPLE at the Moms+SocialGood summit in New York City on Wednesday: “But that is my greatest aspiration – to be a mother.”

Although she has four brothers and sisters, Smart, 26, says she hasn’t decided whether she and Gilmour want to have a big family. “I guess we’ll start having kids and see how I handle that and then go from there,” she says. “I don’t have a predetermined number in my head.”

The public speaker, activist and abduction survivor says her own mother, Lois Smart, is the main reason she aspires to motherhood. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my mom,” Smart says. “My mom is a hero and has influenced my life more than any other person, and I’d like to have that same influence on my children.”

Family planning aside, Smart and her husband are keeping busy. “I’m out speaking and talking about all the topics that I’m passionate about, and he’s busy in school and working and taking care of me, which is probably a full-time job,” she says with a laugh. “We’re great. We’re happy. We’re busy.”

Smart spends much of her time on the road lobbying for child abduction legislation as president of social justice organization the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. “This is a topic that I’m very passionate about,” she says. “There are still children out there waiting to be saved. We need to keep our eyes open.”

And she’s taken an interest in a recent case that hits close to home: that of Cleveland kidnapping survivors, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.

“They are such strong women, and they are just proof that you can overcome whatever life throws at you,” Smart says. “They were so strong and so powerful, and they didn’t forget that. And at the end of the day, they were the ones who rescued themselves.”