TThe childhood experience living in the Hill Country has drastically changed over the years and what once brought many newcomers to the area has morphed. For those who moved to Boerne before Walgreens, Taco Cabana and Beall’s, there were dreams of living a simple life, receiving quality education and relishing the joys of country life. These were the tenants recalled by a strong, successful and resilient woman who grew up in Boerne, reminiscing the days when she was a child. Natalie Biggers recalls her fondest memories as a child, “We lived on a couple acres with a lake behind the house.
Every day I would get off the bus, do my homework as fast as I could then go swim in the lake. Sometimes we would fish, play on the rope swings, or take out the canoes.” Though Natalie’s parents seemed struggled in some areas they had intensions of gold, “I think my parents wanted us to have a better situation and school life than they did, but mostly they wanted us to live the “country life” experience.” From playing in the garden, to chasing chickens to building forts, life for Natalie felt safe, full of love and all the outside fun the sunshine would allow. However, as she got older, Natalie began to notice not everyone in Boerne lived the same lifestyle she did, “It was hard back then to live and Boerne and not be ‘rich’. In the mid 80s either people had money or they didn’t and in Boerne most people were more well off than we were. My parents did a good job shielding us from the difference but as a girl, in middle school, I definitely began to notice I had less than others.” This revelation did not hold Natalie back. She developed wonderful friendships and expanded her understanding of what “country life” looked like to her, but nothing would prepare her for what life would offer her in the coming years.
When Natalie was 14 and her older brother, Matt, was a junior in High School, their mother and father decided to divorce. The rattle of home life came with additional changes that would prove to extend the trials and tribulations Natalie would face moving forward.
Country life would soon turn to city life for Natalie. Her mother felt compelled to move in with Natalie’s grandmother who was near the end of her battle with cancer and help provide her care and comfort in those last days. Therefore, Natalie and Matt moved to San Antonio and live with their father. As a freshman, Natalie quickly gained popularity among her peers and received academic recognition at Highlands High School with aspirations of attending the University of Texas-San Antonio upon graduation. Her life seemed well planned and her ability to adjust and overcome, though tested, would be challenged beyond belief during her senior year of high school. Natalie’s only sibling and big brother would lose his life and while reeling in the pain of his loss, she and his best friend would find solace in each other, “I think he would come over because he knew my Dad was sad figured somehow they could manage to cope better together.” As time pressed on, Natalie began a relationship with her big brother’s best friend and they decided to move in together upon graduating from high school. Unexpectedly, not long after, and despite precaution, Natalie found out she was pregnant.
“I never considered anything other than having my child,” though shocked by the pregnancy Natalie was immediately committed and dedicated to being a mother at the age of 18. Like many who face such a challenge, Natalie’s response to the sudden change in life course would lead her down a path of rigorous self-determination and resilience, “I thought I had it all figured out and assumed my first plan would work out: I was due in the summer and would start UTSA, go the first semester, have baby Avery and go back to school.” The trials of being a young mother surpass logistics, but Natalie found support in her family, “Right after I had her, I moved home with my dad and he helped me with her while I went to night school 5 nights a week. Avery’s father’s family was also extremely supportive and I am very grateful for that.”
Natalie’s determination to get her education and provide for her child was fierce and required extreme strategizing, but as expected, seeing her friends experiencing college life as she had hoped, going to parties and having fun, left her struggling at times to keep up her strength. “I didn’t have the emotional maturity I needed to overcome the resentment I would feel at times because I didn’t always want to do what I knew I had to do to keep moving in the right direction.” However, she was set on graduating from college and after a couple extra years of hard work and working hard she reached her goal.
Now, with her degree in English and her dreams of becoming a writer on hold, she stared into the big blue eyes of her beautiful daughter and designed a journey for herself, one decision at a time, that would propel her into a career and child rearing experience unfathomable to many.
In particular, Natalie recalls an incident that would remind her of her atypical place in life, “One time when Avery was in 5th grade, we were tardy to school and I had to walk Avery into Private Christian School she attended and one of the teachers did not believe I was Avery’s mom. She went on and on in disbelief that I was her mother, at one point saying to Avery ‘Your mom is just a kid herself.’ She made me feel embarrassed and I had never ever felt that way up to this point. I didn’t understand the big deal at the time but eventually I began to uncover the judgement that she was spewing on me as a young, unwed, mother. I never showed my face in that class room again.”
Before there were MTV reality series about unwed, teen mothers, there was judgment and looks of disapproval for young mother’s doing their very best to grow up and raise a child at the same time. Struggling to keep up with education, finances, milestones, relationships and emotions has been on- going for Natalie, like many others. Something in Natalie kept her focused, driven and resilient to the extent she rarely questioned herself, “ I kept thinking about what the next right choice was for us”. But as she looks back, her insight to the situation is immense and profound. She is able to recognize her areas of deficiency and reflect on moments of regret, “I didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with the heavy issues that came in my life. Between break ups and co-parenting, I felt like I was often in a sinking ship because I didn’t have the maturity I needed to overcome the tumultuous court battles and all that went along with the situation as a whole. I didn’t have the skills and had a small child looking up to me. I wish someone had sit me down and taken the time to teach me the tools I needed to cope and grow. But I didn’t have anyone do that or to look to for that and just trying so hard to provide for us I missed out on some of the small, precious moments of her life.”
The reality is teen pregnancy will continue and for the sake of the lives that are shaped by these mothers, it is important to remember how support, words of encouragement and guidance can be so impactful.
Natalie’s story is a reminder that sometimes it truly does take a village, even when the village doesn’t know it’s needed. Now we have social media and access to information reminding us of all the resources at our finger tips to aid us in parenting and navigating pregnancy, but when all is said and done very few of us have all the answers, tools, skills or maturity we need to parent the way our children deserve. “I wish I had reached out to a support group, or a mentor and would recommend that to anyone who feels unsure, overwhelmed and unprepared for motherhood.”
Determination and dedication were the waves that kept Natalie afloat, not only as a parent but as a business woman. She has extensive background and experience in real estate and has shared that vigor and talent with her charming, savvy and kind daughter, who, this month graduates from University of Texas-San Antonio with a degree in Real Estate Finance and Development. Congratulations to both Natalie and Avery for demonstrating the power of perseverance, strength, and love. The future is just one step in the right direction.