The internal conflict that the mother faces is the battle she must have gone through in herself when her daughter was trapped inside their burning house. The situation is deliberately paralleled to the first time that she saved her daughter's life, when she lost her daughter's father. In spite of her mother's "cat-like precision" and incredible skill, it must have been incredibly difficult and challenging for the mother to keep her cool and remain calm whilst watching the flames eat up more of the house and threaten her only child. Note how the daughter's memories of this event deliberately suggests that her mother's action was similar to what she did in the circus:
I slowly wondered what would happen if we missed the circle or bounced out of it. Then I wrapped my hands around my mother's hands. I felt the brush of her lips and heard the beat of her heart in my ears, loud as thunder, long as the roll of drums.
The way her mother's heart is compared to the "roll of drums" that would accompany a trick and help to add tension to it suggests strongly the internal conflict that her mother would have faced. Having already lost one person that she loves, she know is threatened with losing a second person, and this is something that would have produced massive internal conflict.