Peeling the Layers of Motherhood

by Hanan Osman

Mother and Child

As I sit here with this little time I have to myself, drinking this nursing support tea to help produce breast milk for my 3-week-old newborn baby, I reflect on the days when my body didn’t ache as much, or when I had the luxury of stepping out of my home whenever I wanted, or when time didn’t slip so easy. The transition into motherhood is soo different for so many of us. There’s this notion that every woman instantly falls in love when finding out they’re pregnant, carrying the little one throughout pregnancy, or right after labor.

For me, it was so much different. While pregnant with my first child, now 18 months, I never had or felt a connection while carrying her or even after birthing her. Of course I nurtured her, kept her safe, and gave her everything I could. I just didn’t have that immediate connection with her.

It’s here where our society makes women feel guilty or not motherly enough for not experiencing this sooner. For me it was a new experience, it was life-changing and I needed to adjust and realize how amazing my body was to carry this little person inside of me. Throughout the many sleepless nights and the non-stop crying, many times I questioned if I made the right decision. The first three months were the hardest. But then my daughter started sleeping throughout the night, entertaining herself, and now as she’s growing up she’s slowly becoming more independent. It’s a bittersweet experience.

Everyone tells you what it means or what it looks like to be a great mother, but no one ever tells you the constant inner struggles or pieces of yourself you let go of. But I’ve learned this: that which we lose we gain. And I’ve gained.

Being a mother, I’ve learned, is so much more than just being a caregiver. There is so much you learn about yourself, about the strength you never knew you were capable of having, about coming to terms with a lot of insecurities you held about the many changes to your body or about how well you perform your role as a mother. There is this change that happens in women, this change that’s happened in me.

My mother, like many mothers, carries soo much weight on her shoulders. Her role is never-ending – a mother’s role is never-ending. We carry our children to the moon and rejoice in the sun with them. I strongly believe that motherhood isn’t meant to look the same for everyone, feel the same, or be experienced the same, although making our children feel love, warmth, and protection is the goal.

My mother, through her experience, has helped me realize the importance of self-care through this journey of motherhood. To always be kind, easy, and most importantly not live up to the expectations of how motherhood is defined by others or society. To do the best that I can, and to ultimately know that will be enough.

I hope that this Mother’s Day brings mothers some form of consolation that you’re not alone in your experience. That you are enough. That while you continue to embrace and embody this amazing and life-changing experience you also don’t forget about yourself, because your child wouldn’t want you to!

With love and blessings, Happy Mother’s Day!


Hanan Osman is a mother of two beautiful little girls, sister to four amazing young men who are her heart and a loving wife and daughter. Her knowledge and love about the struggles of her Oromo people began on her first trip to the motherland, where she learned her biggest life lessons with her mother by her side.

Meet Me Halfway


In her eyes, you had it all. Perfect build, killer smile, quite easy on the eye to that sixteen-year-old tomboy. You had ambition, direction and motivation. The words she needed to hear flowed off of your tongue like the sweetest form of poetry. Words so sweet she could taste them. Words so vivid, every time you spoke she painted a masterpiece in her head. Your speech made the world around her go completely mute. You knew you were becoming the center of her world; you allowed her to surrender her heart to the palm of your hand, despite the fact that you knew you never intended on giving her yours in return.

You made her think the fantasy you created was reality. You tugged at her heart strings until she lived, breathed and bled for you only. She was quick to come to your defense; she was a one-woman militia, ready to eliminate anything and everything that threatened your well-being. Whether or not you knew it, she tied her happiness to you. She allowed you to puppet her along for years, hoping that one day you would look her in the eyes and ask her to hold your hand and run off into the sunset. Truly hoping that one day, you would put her on the same pedestal.

You deserve an Oscar for the way you played the role of her Prince Charming. You were a natural on the stage of her life. So convinced, she told her closest friends about you. So inspirational, she prayed God kept you in the shade of His protection. So implausible, she gloated about how blessed she was. So believable, your act made her fantasy a reality. So rehearsed, you even said you loved her like you truly meant it.

Every time she would ask you to take a step forward, you would blame distance. It confused her because she was conditioned to believe that there is nothing that can stop true love. Still, she didn’t lose hope.

A few years passed and time progressed around her. She heard the whispers, but you trained her to never believe what she heard unless you said it. She was beginning to feel like there was something off about it all, but you stopped her before she got carried away in thought.  Although it was evidently clear to the rest of the world that you were flawed, you were still perfect to her. She did not realize that she was asking you to give her something that you were incapable of giving. She did not realize that the distance you were referring to was not literal, but in fact, figurative. So she went the extra mile. She bridged the gap and allowed for you to break her. She allowed you to change her until she could no longer recognize herself. Before she took the leap towards you, you started off in the opposite direction.

But still, you touched her. You kissed her and held her like she was the only one. You deliberately took a piece of her, knowing that it was just another souvenir. She did not realize that she would never get that piece of her back and trusted that you would cherish it. She was rudely awakened.

It was at that moment in time she realized who she had become. She finally realized her devotion to you was stronger than her devotion to God. She realized the many things she did for you, only to find out not only did you neglect her, but she neglected herself. She wallowed in depression and looked for answers, none of which you seemed to have. She thought she was doomed and the world around her would never make sense without you. You broke her but nevertheless, she fought to keep you around – if not as her lover, at least as her friend. Although she believed it was possible, time proved otherwise. You both trotted down the paths of your lives, moving in different directions, only to become estranged.

She’s come to her own realizations now. She now can see that she was asking you to love her, not realizing that you did not know how. She now understands the distance you were referring to was the distance between how she felt about you and how you felt about her. She was light-years ahead and expected you to catch up. You taught her lessons she never expected to learn. You helped her flip the pages into a new chapter of her life and gave her the push towards the start of healing she yearned for. Although you might believe there is nothing more for her to say, there is one last thing. In case you’re reading this, she wants to say thank you for not “meeting her halfway”.

Akkoo Waree was born in Hargeisa, Somalia and was raised in Dallas, Texas. She is currently pursuing a pre-law degree and hopes to use her degree to advance the current state of the Oromo people.