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.