5 Lessons Learned From Mom

Previously published by Secular Shethinkers

In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to talk about how awesome my mom is. No, seriously, my mom is one of the coolest people I’ve ever had in my life and I’m lucky enough to have known her for 28 years (if we’re counting gestation). Of course she’s not perfect and, like all of us, she has her flaws. But she’s a huge part of what makes me the hardworking feminist you’ve (hopefully) grown to love, so it’s only fair to give her credit where it’s due. So to prove to you Shethinkers that my mom is the bomb, I thought I would share some of the things she’s taught me. Because everyone deserves someone as cool as my mama!

“Everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have.”

In short, people are good but the things they do can be bad.


Not everyone’s tool box at birth comes with the same tools, and if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail. I believe the vast majority of people have the best of intentions, but limited knowledge, resources, and opportunities can lead us into poor decisions. I believe most “evil” people are doing what they believe to be the right thing, and pretending otherwise only makes us blind to our own rationales for bad choices. False moral superiority just isn’t my style.

“Oh, that makes sense.”

2nd best response to a loved one coming out as trans.

Absolute best goes to Grandma, my mom’s mom, “I don’t give a shit if you’re purple, why haven’t you called?”


My mother grew up in a Brooklyn apartment below a cross-dressing sex-worker named Bernie. So I grew up believing New York was a magical place where queer folks could be free and nobody would bat an eye at them, and my visit to NYC did not disappoint me. But even though NYC is still my dream city, my mom helped me realize a life lived freely isn’t exclusive to a 10xxx zip code. All the work I do for the LGBT community is so that some day, every kid will get the same kind of acceptance as I got from my family.

“Write like Hemingway. Say more with less.”

If you ask me to critique your writing, I will destroy “that”s, “very”s, and over-used phrases with a vengeance.


Hemingway is my mom’s favorite writer, not mine, but  you’ve got to admire the man for not wasting your time. The longer my writing is, the more ruthless I am toward my own bullshit. As a college student, I’ve adopted this same philosophy to all of my school work. I work smart, not hard, and I try to be as efficient with my very limited time as possible. If someone in my group is trying to make things more complicated than they need to be, I will call them out and put a stop to that nonsense. Because the art of editing taught me another important lesson: You’re first idea will probably suck.

“There are two kinds of people in this world: People who masturbate and people who lie.”

If I ever write a book about sex, this is going to be the title.

If I ever write a book about sex, this is going to be the title.

My mom was a sex-positive feminist long before it was cool. She gave me my first box of condoms, my first vibrator, and did not try to police my relationships as a teenager except for the occasional reminder to be safe and smart about my decisions. And hey, what do you know, I didn’t become sexually active until later in life, just like all the research on comprehensive sex-education shows! In my interactions with the LGBT youth I mentor, I take my mom’s same approach to answering any and all sexual questions: If they’re already asking, that means they’re already interested, might as well make sure they’re informed.

“I will unleash my Yankee Bitch if I have to.”

Trust me, you do not want to see the Yankee Bitch.


This is a skill passed down from woman to woman in our family, only to be used in emergencies when some douche  just won’t fucking listen to you, usually because you’re a woman. I don’t think I’ve needed to unleash the Yankee Bitch in quite some time, but I always have it in my back pocket, ready to go at a moment’s notice. In our family, “bitch” was simply a woman who got shit done and didn’t particularly care how what you thought about her, so long as you got in line. And sometimes, only a bitch can get shit done.

There’s so much more awesome shit my mom taught me than this, but come on, I can’t give away all the family secrets. What would I write about next Mother’s Day? And while we’re on the subject, I’d also like to give my soon-to-be mother-in-law a shout out too. I’ve only known her for four years and our relationship started out rocky, but she raised the man I love and we surprisingly have a lot more in common than either of us might have realized. Also, my former step-mom and I helped each other survive some weird shit, and that kind of experience can’t be forgotten. Bonus thanks to my grandmothers, aunts, and other awesome women who helped raise me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, mamas-to-be, mamas of fur babies, and women who guide and teach the next generation. What moms do changes lives, and so long as they’re trying their best, I believe it can change lives for the better.

Don’t forget to tune in for the Secular Shethinkers “Single Moms” episode, broadcasting May 11th at 9pm Central!

Published by

Dori Mooneyham

Dori Mooneyham is a psychology student at Texas Woman's University specializing in queer youth and their families. As a feminist, trans woman, and lesbian, she offers many unique insights and perspectives not often seen in the academic world.

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