There is a sort of freedom in laying down a sleeping baby. The weight of responsibility, the constant pressure in your thoughts--what does baby need, why is she crying, what have I forgotten--eases for a time. For a time, she is self-sufficient, in her crib, dreaming whatever babies dream about.
A physical freedom, as well--you can move about freely, no baby to balance on hip or sit on lap, no hands reaching to grab whatever you pass or entwining themselves in your hair. The house is silent, peaceful, quiet enough to hear yourself breathing. To hear the baby breathing, even, if you stand still beside her crib and listen.
One can never move quickly enough to do everything you have postponed for the nap. While the baby is awake, playing and laughing and crying to be held and fed and played with, your mind tick, tick, ticks, in the background, running through the to-do list of Tasks That Are More Easily Performed During the Nap. Which, to be clear, is just about everything. Plans are made, long lists organized, all while spooning rice cereal into baby's mouth and saying "yum, yum!" and smiling back at her gummy grin. And when she starts rubbling her eyes, you get positively giddy with anticipation of Time Alone.
So you get out the bottle and cuddle up and listen to her sucking get slower and watch her long eyelashes flutter shut. Finally, you hear that last sigh of surrender, as her body relaxes and she burrows into her dreams.
Her weight in your arms, against your chest or over your shoulder, becomes just a tad heavier each day. And you remember just yesterday, when your older child squirmed out of your hug after just a moment. And you feel the absolute trust this little creature has, to fall asleep in your arms. And the List disintegrates, the tasks blowing away like autumn leaves. And you sit and listen to her breathe, feeling her weight, holding your baby just a few moments longer, slowing down the world.