She sways in the rocker, ever so quietly. The soothing sounds of white noise just about drown out the soft creaks. I need to fix that, she says to herself. Her arms are numb from rocking her baby to sleep. Today was an exceptionally difficult day. Gingerly, she tries to recline to a more comfortable position. The baby stirs. She holds her breath.

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The gentle motions of the chair comfort her fatigued muscles. She ran a different kind of marathon today. One that involved a clingy baby and a needy toddler. Her arms are sore. She feels a cramp forming in her shoulder. No. Not now, please. She shifts ever so slightly. The baby stirs. She holds her breath.

In the dim night light, she catches a glimpse of a shadow. That can’t be me, she thinks, her brain foggy from the day’s exhaustion.

The shadow appears eerily defeated, hunched over, face hung low. Timidly, she pushes herself up. The baby stirs. She holds her breath.

Her mind wanders to a place of uncertainty. She questions her actions from today. Did she do enough? Could she have done more to make it a better day? The thoughts drain her. Her eyes begin to droop as she sinks into tired slumber. Slowly, her arms begin to relax. The baby stirs. She holds her breath.

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Trying to stay awake, she looks around the disorderly room. This needs to be cleaned up, she scolds herself. Her gaze settles on a dusty photo of the children. She thinks of that daya better day. A soft chuckle involuntary escapes her weary body as she is reminded of a joke her daughter told her. The baby stirs. She holds her breath.

She looks down at him.

His long lashes peacefully dark against his pale skin. His tiny head delicately nestled in the crook of her stiffening elbow. His dainty fingers resting gently on her chest. She inhales his sweet, precious smell. The baby stirs. He smiles in his sleep. She holds her breath. And smiles right back.

Today was a difficult day, but in this moment, all is well in her world.

Zehra Naqvi

Mama of 2. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Just getting by, one chocolate bar at a time.