Mommy Issues: Natalie Nunn On The Ups And Downs Of Being Raised By A Young Single Mom
Most of what you’ve been able to see and learn about Natalie Nunn has come through her time on reality TV, and it’s been very bad. Bad Girls Club that is. After making a name for herself on Season 4 of the show, we’ve known her for being a firecracker who runs L.A. But there’s more to Nunn’s story that she recently shared while appearing as one of the stars on the Lifetime program The Mother/Daughter Experiment, which she did alongside her mother Karen Nunn. We learned that the two have had a volatile relationship that stems all the way back to her childhood. Karen had Natalie when she was young (she had her son, Ronald, when she was 18, and Natalie when she was 21), and Natalie described their relationship growing up as “complicated,” mostly because she looked at Karen as more of a friend than an authority figure.
“Growing up, where I’m from, a lot of my friend’s moms when we were in middle school or high school, they were like 60,” Natalie said. “My mom’s still not even 60 and I’m already 30. At one point, when I was younger, my mom was like the hot mom in school. So she was cool, and that coolness I sometimes got confused with being more of my friend rather than, ‘Oh that’s my mom, I shouldn’t talk to her like that.'”
She continued, ” I just always came at my mom like, ‘Oh, she’s the homie.’ Or I’d call her by her first name just to mess with her. And some people would be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so disrespectful.’ and I’m like, ‘Oh Karen? She’s cool. She’s not trippin’.’ It was originally a fun mother-daughter relationship. But I guess when I got into middle school and high school, it turned into an ‘Oh, that’s so disrespectful, you can’t talk to your mother like that’ kind of thing.”
Natalie said that while making major moves playing soccer for USC, she often stayed with teammates and friends. When she came into contact with their families, she realized that her own was completely different. More and more she would be told that her relationship with her mom was unconventional, but not necessarily in a good way. That’s when things got a bit more complicated.
“My best friend whom I was roommates with when I played soccer in college, her family was a very traditional Italian family,” Natalie said, “and even though she was cool and we were best friends, I noticed she would never say certain things to her mom. But my mom would call and ask, ‘How was last night?’ and I’d be like, ‘Aw man, I had the best sex in the world! Let me tell you!’ And my friend would be like, ‘I can’t believe you talk to your mom like that!’ So it opened my eyes to realize that one, my mom and I have a really cool relationship where we’re really open with each other, but at the same time, she’s my mom and some things need to be completely separate.
She also realized as she got older that she and her mother are very much alike. And that was something that often led Karen and Natalie to bump heads in a very big, loud way.
“She was always on her toes, ready to fight back and argue with me and let me know who was boss, so it was always a back and forth thing. My mom was a single mom so it wasn’t like I really had a dad there to be like, ‘Why are you talking to your mom like that?’ or anyone to step in. So it was kind of like, ‘What are you gonna do about it?'”
But what Natalie also realized was that despite their complex relationship, her mother was always her biggest supporter. From this day to all the way back when she was receiving hell from her many White classmates growing up for being biracial.
“The areas I grew up in were predominately White and the kids would just always have something to say about my skin,” Natalie said. “When I would come home and ask my mom why I can’t take my hair out of my braids and wear them down, she would let me. She’d be like, ‘You want to go to school with all your hair out? Go ahead!’ She would stand up for me, because I was always in a community where I stood out.”
And it’s these realizations that pushed Natalie and her mother to try and work on their relationship by appearing on The Mother/Daughter Experiment. After doing therapy together with Dr. Debbie Magids, she learned how to finally quell that well-known temper of hers–at least with Karen.
“Dr. Debbie gave me an hourglass and told me, before you react to things, and when mom gets me upset or gets on me, I need to take a minute to respond,” Natalie said. “Before I would just lash out. Now I wait. I’ll hold my tongue with her before I respond. Because between her and I, if I say something to her that she doesn’t like because she just said something to me that I don’t like, it’s going to be a problem. We’re two firecrackers and alpha females with a mouth. So it’s not like she got a daughter who’s the complete opposite of her. Me, I’m very demanding and just like my mom. And if you put us in a room together in the past, it was going to pop off.”
In the end, the two have grown closer, and Natalie has been able to fully understand and appreciate the sacrifices that her mother made for her and her brother. It’s that drive, that love, and that openness that Natalie hopes to provide in the same way to her own children someday.
“A mother is someone who you should always be able to go to for advice. Someone who you look up to. I look up to my mom,” Natalie said. “I think she’s a very strong woman. She raised my brother and I alone. She’s the type of mom I want to be. Obviously, we’re different people, but there are certain traits that my mom has that I want to have for my kids someday. I want my kids to feel like I’m always going to be there for them and have their back. We didn’t have money when I was growing up, we weren’t rich. My mom worked two jobs for most of her life. So that hard work ethic that she’s always shown for me and my brother–I mean, we are her main priorities and we’re grown. She took my grandma in for eight, nine years as she suffered with dementia. She stopped her entire life to be at home with my grandmother and take care of her. She’s a simple woman. And yeah, I’m in Hollywood, I’ve been on TV, but honestly, that simple, loyal, ride-or-die type of mom and person is what I want to be for my kids.”