The Best Advice My Mother Gave Me



I was fourteen and outing myself to her. Mom, I told her, I’m bisexual. The semantics aren’t that important as bi would turn to gay would turn back to bi would turn to I’m tired of definitions and I like who I like. The attitude with which she responded, though, speaks leaps and bounds about the person she is and the person she raised me to be.

You are a lot of things. Don’t let one thing define who you are at the expense of others.

There’s this thing in the queer community concerning the evolution of coming out–after you go public, there is more often than not a mild explosion of rainbows that trail behind you for a while as you figured out how to mold your identity around this new shiny facet. I was no exception–my girlfriend indulged my every rainbow whim, I went to pride parades and was obnoxiously loud, I was aggressive to gawkers and would launch into expletives whenever someone shouted a slur at me. Etc. Etc. Etc. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with any of that, especially since I was a teenager figuring out who I was, but my mom’s words sunk deep into my brain. I might be gay, but that is not all that I am. I am a million and one things, and that’s a good thing.

This advice comes in handy every single day I’m alive, and it’s kept me from getting lost. In college I thought that I was going to be a reporter, that I was going to go through the journalism program. Long story short, that route almost killed me. My mom’s words rang true again– I am a writer, but it is not all that I am. I may  be bipolar, but that is not all that I am.

In a deep way, it rescued me from losing myself to the worst of who I can be at times. In a lighter way, those words have kept me from pigeonholing my interests. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a reader. I don’t have to be any one of those things. Even now, in a full circle, I am the life partner to a man, but that is not all that I am. I am still largely gay. I am in love with David. I paint. I play video games. I write. No one thing will sum up my life experiences, and that’s a great gift to be given.

mommy photobooth collage

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I had my mom over to play a game of Scrabble. I lost to her and David by an embarrassing margin. David lost to her by a hair. A week earlier my sister, brother in law, partner and I all took my mom out for a picnic for an early celebration. Today my mom and I are going to the grocery store together. I think it shows on this blog, particularly if you read between the lines closely, but my mom is my best friend. I know that’s not the case for everyone and to those people I say I’m sorry, and all I can offer you is my mom. She’s taken in any and all of my sister’s and I’s friends growing up. She’s taken in our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our best friends, our frenemies. She has an open heart that leaves me awed most times Other times it leaves me fiercely protective, willing to scream down anyone who takes advantage of her kindness.

My sister and my mom form the core of my family unit. We’ve added some amazing people into that unit, like David and my brother in law. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that the five of us can sit down on a park bench for three hours, joking and laughing and making each other roll their eyes, and still not be sick of each other. My mom is the key piece of glue in that equation and I’m just lucky to have her.

I’m including the last pictures of David with my mom on our trip to Hawaii because it best sums up how we all feel about each other. There is silliness, there is refusing to pose for the camer seriously, but most importantly there is love and family.

I’m rambling. It’s hard not to, if you knew her. She’s my best friend and I love her. She’s always given me her whole heart and I hope she knows (I’m pretty sure she knows) she has my whole heart as well.

Mom & David Collage

Mushy stuff about my mom aside? I think The Bloggess wrote a beautiful piece about Mother’s Day that I whole heartedly concur with, and SIF shared some really great words as well. I love using this day to celebrate my mom, but I have too many women in my life who find this an isolating and heartbreaking holiday. I want to echo the words of others to them–You are not a lesser person if this is not your holiday. 


4 thoughts on “The Best Advice My Mother Gave Me

  1. She’s beautiful, too. When YOU love someone, you love them fiercely. I especially love the part about her not only accepting you but everyone you’ve ever chosen to love. That’s a mark of a great mom.

  2. This is lovely and a great piece of advice for anybody who is struggling to find their identity in life.


    We have our Mother’s Day in April, because our mums are better than your mums and so deserve earlier thanks, but still: Your mum seems pretty cool and Wise (with a capital ‘W’)


    ‘Mom’ makes so much more sense because of the ‘O’ in ‘Mother’… What the heck is wrong with the English and our demented obsession with ‘U’s?


    The line “I am still largely gay.” amused me for some reason that I can’t put my finger on.
    It wasn’t an amusement at the meaning of the words or anything, it was more the way it sounded in my head… I don’t know. Ignore my prattling.


    Happy Mothers Day to your Mother who is Wise.

  3. Wonderful, wonderful. Your mother is a sage and a beautiful person. (I got lucky in the Mom department, too.) Also, the mild explosion of rainbows trailing behind you is the best imagery I’ve read in a while. 🙂

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