The Best Cure for Stress

Though he still has 4 months to go, Ewan has entered the Terrible (yet, Terrific, I'm sure!) Twos.  The other day when we had an especially difficult time at a store, I realized another reason why breastfeeding a toddler is so great.  When he is being difficult and we both lose our cool, it brings us both back down to a relaxed state, so that the frustrations we feel with each other can be resolved positively.

The other day, DH, DS and I were at a big box store.  (I have a love-hate relationship with big box stores.  Sometimes one-stop shopping is so convenient.)  Ewan was so excited to be at the store that he did not want to sit in the cart, so he wandered around with us as I did my best to minimize the trail of destruction behind him.

All of the sudden, an object of interest caught Ewan's eye: a double-deck display of balls held up in a frame with bungee cords.  He bolted for the display and climbed in!  He went right between the bungee cords of the bottom layer and sat down in the middle of all of the balls, saying, "Balls!  Balls!"
The display was similar to this,
except it had balls on the
top and bottom.

"Ewan, please come out of there.  Let's pick one ball to carry with us, ok?" I said, calmly.


"It's dangerous to be in there, Ewan.  Let's come out, ok?"

No way.

He was in heaven, but I was exasperated.

We sat there for at least 5 minutes.

He was naming the colors of the balls and noticing the different textures on the balls, which was really cute, and I (begrudgingly) reinforced his communication as positively as I could, but he was inside of a display with 5 feet of playground balls suspended above his head, held up by only a few bungee cords.  This was not a safe or appropriate activity.

I finally had to remove him from the display.  He was so mad.  I did my best to keep the calmest voice possible and explain that we needed to say "bye-bye" to the balls.  We were both stressed out.  I was embarrassed and frustrated, and he was annoyed and frustrated.  I carried him out of the store and out to the car while he was squirming out of my arms and yelling.  It's at this point that I became very self conscious and wondered if other people think that I can't handle my own kid.  Those thoughts only add to my frustration.

At the car, he happily climbed into my lap in the front passenger's seat and nursed.  I figured he might be a little hungry for a snack, but even if he wasn't hungry, he was upset, and nursing almost always is the best way to calm him down.  But he wasn't the only one who needed to calm down.

It did the trick for both of us.  DH came back out the the car about 10 minutes later with our stuff and Ewan and I were fine.  No more tears--his or mine.  The oxytocin was flowing and it completely reset our moods.  Ewan got into his car seat with no protest.  DH handed him a ball that he'd picked up from the display as a present and we drove home.

I don't really want to imagine how that scene would have ended without the ability to nurse ourselves back to sanity.  It certainly would have involved more tears, more kicking and screaming, and more frustration with each other.

Breastfeeding saves us from staying mad at each other and it helps strengthen our relationship during the times when we need it most.