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Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Paperback)
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National Jewish Book Award Finalist 2016
A deeply affecting, funny, insightful meditation that challenges readers to find the spiritual meaning of parenting.
Every day, parents are bombarded by demands. The pressures of work and life are relentless; our children’s needs are often impossible to meet; and we rarely, if ever, allow ourselves the time and attention necessary to satisfy our own inner longings. Parenthood is difficult, demanding, and draining. And yet, argues Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, if we can approach it from a different mindset, perhaps the work of parenting itself can offer the solace we seek.
Rooted in Judaism but incorporating a wide-range of religious and literary traditions, Nurture the Wow asks, Can ancient ideas about relationships, drudgery, pain, devotion, and purpose help make the hard parts of a parent’s job easier and the magical stuff even more so? Ruttenberg shows how parenting can be considered a spiritual practice—and how seeing it that way can lead to transformation. This is a parenthood book, not a parenting book; it shows how the experiences we have as parents can change us for the better.
Enlightening, uplifting, and laugh-out-loud funny, Nurture the Wow reveals how parenthood—in all its crazy-making, rage-inducing, awe and joy-filled moments—can actually be the path to living fully, authentically, and soulfully.
About the Author
Danya Ruttenberg was named one of ten “rabbis to watch” byNewsweekand one of the “36 most influential leaders under age 36” byThe Jewish Week. Her writing has appeared in Best Jewish Writing,The New York Times,The Atlantic,Salon,and other publications. Her first book, Surprised By God, was nominated for a Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and was a Hadassah Book Club selection. She lives in Chicago with her husband and sons.
"A wise book [whose] ideas keep stirring after the last page is turned."
“An inquiry into the spiritual nourishment that raising young children offers parents... an opportunity to …reckon with the power of life and the mysteries of the universe.”
“In her inimitable style – sometimes sassy, other times soft and reflective, Ruttenberg tills the soil of [parents’] inner landscape.”
"Smart and funny… so meaningful for parents of small kids.”
- Tablet Magazine
"For my parents, it was Dr. Benjamin Spock. For us, it was T. Berry Brazelton and Penelope Leach. And for this generation, it might be Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. [Nurture the Wow] is not about how to parent. It’s about why you would even want to.... Read Nurture the Wow. No, don’t read it. Pray it."
“Parenthood is rough from minute to minute, but [Ruttenberg] offers a way to see it as a chance to connect to the bigness of the universe.”
"This book does not offer a how-to strategy for raising obedient or well-adjusted children with a minimum of efficiently placed effort. Instead, its somewhat counterintuitive central thesis is that parenting is not a goal-oriented process at all. Rather than exploring the best ways to get specific results from our children, Ruttenberg reflects on how parenting can make parents themselves more sensitive, open, and truly spiritual people."
"Engaging, at times self-deprecating and funny, and at other times deeply poignant. Nurture the Wow asks us to shift our mindset about parenting and think of it as a spiritual practice. That means staying awake through the mundane and forgiving ourselves for the mistakes made today, so that we can keep trying again, and again."
"Finally a parenting book that's not preachy or pretentious. Nurture the Wow reminded me not only that I’m not alone in the challenging work of raising little humans, but that I already have the resources and ability to become more of the parent I want to be, moment by moment. I highly recommend it to any parent who wants to feel more connected, not only to their children, but to their heritage and community, the present moment, and perhaps most importantly, themselves."
“Nurture the Wow offers a refreshing break from parenting books that tell us only what to do and not do, and instead invites us to ask the larger questions of how and why. This is a wise and honest guide to seeing the magic inside the mundane.”
--Tova Mirvis, author of Visible City
“Remember the ‘operating instructions’ Anne Lamott famously complained don’t come with babies? Well, they finally got here! Rabbi Danya Ruttenerg breaks the news gently: the kids themselves aren't the problem -- the manual we need is for our own messed-up mental states, and Nurture the Wow is exactly that. I so wish I’d had this wise, funny, and insightful book thirty-six years ago, and once my son’s read it he will wish I had too!”
--Carol Lee Flinders, author of the forthcoming Our Fistful of Salt: Gandhi and the Global Women’s Movement.
“Ruttenberg challenges readers to find spiritual meaning in the nitty-gritty of parenting. This illuminating book offers much that can enrich the experience of daily care for small children."
--Judith Plaskow, author of Standing Again at Sinai and The Coming of Lilith
"As the parent of young children, Danya Ruttenberg knows how to juggle her many responsibilities. As an author, she shows the rest of us how to juggle the demands of the body and spirit. Nurture the Wow is a book about finding grace when you thought you were changing a diaper. And it is also one of those rare gems that seems to add a new color to the already vibrant palate of parenting books. Read this book and you will feel less alone. Read this book and you will see how parenthood can translate into a kind of universal prayer. Ruttenberg is a compelling writer with much to say."
--Nomi Eve, author of Henna House and The Family Orchard
“Nurture the Wow is the literary equivalent of having a cup of tea with a friend while the children entertain each other in the next room. Danya Ruttenberg is a warm, witty companion, a wise sister in the struggle, offering up nothing short of spiritual ballast.”
--Elisa Albert, author of After Birth
“Nurture the Wow is a great reminder to live more fully in the present--a great gift to any child and every parent. Danya Ruttenberg's own story woven with doses of wisdom from religious and spiritual leaders gives this book the perfect balance of head and heart.”
--Amy Richards, author of Opting In