At 25, Lauren Jane Heller found out she was pregnant. She was the first of her friends to become a mother, and up to that point had never imagined having children until later in life. “The thought of having children before I was thirty wasn’t even...I didn’t even have an inkling of thought that that could be possible,” she says. “That just wasn’t part of my reality.” But when she got pregnant with her first child, she says the next step felt like an obvious one to her and her partner, Josh. Now, four years later, Lauren and Josh live in Montreal with their two daughters.

Lauren sees parenting as a part of her evolution as a person and as a part of growing up, and her experience has caused her to question how this experience is viewed by women of her demographic and peer group. “You are no longer able to be a selfish human being because suddenly someone else is more important than you are,” she says, “so all of your priorities get shifted, but I wouldn’t say that they get destroyed.” Lauren continues to prioritize seeing the world, and has taken her family on trips for months at a time, most recently to South Africa.

“I don’t know all the answers, I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up,” says Lauren. “I think that there’s a lot of social pressure for young people to know what they want to do, to find security, to have a sensible career, to buy a house, to do all of these things that, possibly, the older generations see as necessary for comfort,” she says, noting that parenting is often seen as something attainable only after these other needs have been met. “I’m not going to say that it’s not hard, because it is hard, but it’s not as hard as we think. It’s not like you have to give up everything you have because you have children.”

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