I wrote this a few years ago for a message board conversation about Gary Ezzo’s childcare books, but I thought I’d reprint it here. Updated a little.
Mother to mother, woman to woman…
I think that’s what God was driving at with Titus 2.
I am a BIG fan of men. I think men are neat and I love their unique strengths and qualities. I so appreciate my husband’s contribution to our family life and I agree that God gave my children the strengths of both genders–my strengths and his strengths–so that there would be balance in our family.
But Gary Ezzo’s book Prep for Parenting [aka Babywise and “Along the Infant Way”] takes the man’s strengths AND weaknesses and uses them as its template of child care. This is nothing new; the history of child care advice shows a pattern of detached male theorists who are fascinated with the opportunity infancy provides to test theories for creating a better society.
By contrast, I view God as having a different opinion on early child care. It shouldn’t be the province of men testing out theories for social change–this I infer because of God’s design. Newborns are given by God into an intimacy of relationship that begins with a womb and continues at breast. Hormones wash over mother and baby during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding creating a web that knits the physical and emotional together in a way that stacks the deck in favor of each new life being cared for attentively, as physical care brings emotional satisfaction and responsiveness is rewarded over and over by the growing relationship. A simple thing like eye contact with her newborn opens a Grand Canyon of love in a woman’s heart. Being able to quiet a newborn brings a surge of triumphant satisfaction.
If a man deprives us of that, tells us it is useless or harmful or (as Ezzo hints) sick or perverted, and tells us that in place of our area of gifting, the higher goal actually is to run the baby’s life like you’d run a machine–conscientiously maintained on an optimum schedule of maintenance–you dispense with a God given area of the family’s strength and balance.
Titus 2, on the other hand, says that the older women should teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children.
A man, for instance, might indeed think a feeding schedule is necessary. This fits the machine maintenance model, and besides, he thinks, a woman (those flighty creatures) might forget to feed the baby, as Ezzo hints when he points out that a demand feeding mother might forget to feed her baby if for some reason the baby failed to cue. A man who articulates such a concern has obviously never nursed a baby, never felt his breasts were about to explode when the baby overslept a feeding a bit. The concern betrays a lack of connection to the reality of mothering and nursing.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child?” the Scripture asks, rhetorically. The lovely, poetic passage goes on to portray God’s care for “Jerusalem” as being even more reliable than a nursing mother to her baby, an axiom of attentive care. Yet “Yes, even these may forget, but I will never forget you, I have graven you on the palms of my hands” The physicality of the connection is a nice bit of poetry, even more so because it resonates with a nursing mother’s experience: her baby, too, is in a sense “graven” on her body, her breasts continually remind her of the baby’s presence and need.