I’m in my daughter’s room, trying to get her to relax and give in to the tiredness that I know she’s feeling. Why does she fight this nap time? Choosing to wrestle me in my arms a little longer, she flip-flops, from facing outward with feet splayed across my lap, to facing inward, cheek on my chest and thumb securely in her mouth.

I feel anxiety rising in me and frustration flooding my face. I take a few deep breaths and find it in myself to calm her once more, and myself, and begin rhythmically shushing her.

Shhh sh sh Shhh sh sh Shhh. My mouth goes dry, I swallow, and start in again: Shhh sh sh Shh sh sh Shhh.

I feel the tiredness seeping in around my eyes, and I close them. She’s quiet; I kiss her forehead, now calm and still. I want to stay in this room now. “I don’t want to work today,” I think to myself. My to-do list looms in front of me, scrolling across my mind and reminding me that it’s time. I resist a moment longer, soaking in her sweetness.

Rocking back and forth, I feel her weight, her body that has given itself over totally to sleep and baby dreams (what do they dream?), and know I’m nearing that moment of being able to slowly uncross my legs, slowly rise from the chair, one hand strategically under her backside, one hand at the nape of her neck, slowly slowly, rocking as I do it, walk to the crib.

I swing her legs to the left side of me and sort of tuck roll lower her into the crib…she sighs, rolls over, puts her thumb in her mouth again, and pulls her knees to her belly. Child’s pose.

I grab my phone from the chair where I had it strategically tucked, and leave the room, feeling a tinge of sadness I couldn’t hold her a few more moments, I couldn’t let her sleep on me for the whole hour or more that she would nap and listen to her soft in-out breaths, soft snoring. Sometimes I do this — give in to her and to me — and rock her the whole nap long. I do some work on my phone, I email, I text my husband that I’m “stuck under the baby” and then I give in to whatever this feeling of delicious lingering is.

Most of the time it’s a feeling of living in tension. Tension between work and family, tension between tired and awake, between messy and clean. There’s a certain amount of living in tension that comes with motherhood that I didn’t know about, that I’m struggling with. I realize, after about 14 months of this, that the tension doesn’t really go away but it does get easier. The only way forward is to get comfortable living somewhere in between having it all together and it all falling apart.