An hour after she starts rubbing her eyes, the first sign that she’s tired, she’ll let me carry her to the bed for a nap or for the night. Bottle in her mouth, she tips it up or sideways and pulls her legs close to her body, like capital L’s turned clockwise. She makes noises like a horse that’s been ridden hard, and she rolls toward me, cupping a hand around one of my ears, pulling my hair, just generally checking to make sure that I’m there. Then she rolls the other way, stretching an arm out for Francisco. If it doesn’t land with a thud on his chest, she startles and sits up, crawls to the edge of the bed, and looks into the living room. The bottle drops. “Dadu, Dadu, Dadu,” she chants, each repetition a bit more urgent than the last. He has to set aside what he’s doing and come to the bed.
I have put aside something, too, or have been waiting to start something. So much hinges on naps these days. The 20 minute sprints—perhaps an hour at the most—available for writing and other work require complete focus if they are to be fruitful.
Francisco pulls the comforter over her legs. It is his particular habit to be insistent about keeping his girls warm (for years he has urged me to dress more warmly in winter), even when he’s met with the same response. She kicks the covers off violently. (I protest, saying I know my body and don’t like to get overheated).
She begins to relax. As her arm goes limp, the bottle slumps and slips onto the mattress, the nipple sliding out of her mouth with a little pop. Maybe she’ll be far enough into sleep at that point. Or maybe she’ll sit up again and struggle—afraid, maybe, that she’ll miss something during her nap–,pulling herself up on the headboard and banging her hand on a painting, threatening to pull it down on top of us all.
If I am tired—and I usually am—I will sigh. I want to be present, I want to relax so she can relax, but it’s so hard for me. I’m thinking of what I can get done in that 20 minutes or that hour, and I just want to jump on it now while I have some bit of energy left.
When she finally falls asleep I am more aware of my own fatigue and go through the usual internal debate: get up and work or catch up on my own sleep? I choose the former, but continue to second guess myself as I write or edit, and never feel like I’ve made the right decision.