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Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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. Parenth
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Flatiron Books
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  195 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Start your review of Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting
Rebecca Einstein
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I loved this book. It is the perfect blend of traditional texts, ancient wisdom, modern sensibilities, and real-life vignettes. It makes me wish that I'd had this by my side during those really tough early years when my kids were babies. But I'm so grateful to have it NOW because the middle years are no easier. Though there is less poop... ...more
Elizabeth Andrew
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Just when I'd given up on books about spirituality and parenting, I found Danya Ruttenberg's NURTURE THE WOW--a book with an unfortunately kitchy title and excellent content. Ruttenberg is a rabbi steeped in the mystical branches of Judaism. When two boys arrive, interrupting her prayer practice with their bodily needs and rosy-cheeked smiles, she suddenly sees her religious tradition as formed and developed by those not caring for dependents--in other words, by men.

"The idea that caring for ch
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Wonderful blend of ancient texts from all traditions, modern wisdom, and personal anecdotes. I laughed and cried -- it really is a book about being a parent, not about parenting-- there is a difference! Well done!!!!
Kathy Heare Watts
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book for new parents. Passed it on to a couple expecting their first child in June. They were very appreciative to receive the book. I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Hilary Ryder
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I think that there are important lessons to be taught about finding spirituality in everyday life. But the author's description of her poor parenting skills made me unable to get through this book. Her 3 year old who still doesn't sleep through the night. How she fixes a different dinner for each child so they will be happy. Like so many parents today, the author thinks it is her job to make her kids happy, rather than trying to raise self-reliant and resilient kids. ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rabbi Ruttenberg is one of the clearest contemporary teachers Judaism offers the world. This book is no exception. I'm not a parent, and I still took away lots on spiritual practice from Jewish traditions and raising family. Recommended for individuals, parents, parent spiritual support classes, and adult faith development programs. ...more
Morgan Keating
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a beautiful place to end a looooooong day of caring for children. I'd recommend reading the last chapter first! ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wish I'd had this book to read 10 years ago when I was a new parent! Danya Ruttenberg shares great wisdom in how to appreciate and find meaning in the mundane, muddy, and least "magical" aspects of parenting. ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Buy this book for your home library, as you’ll want to return to it again and again. Not just for Jewish folks, and contains a lot of universal thoughts on spirituality that should speak to lots of people, even those who don’t consider themselves religious. For me as a Jewish woman, though, it was profound. Reading this was a call to mindfulness, a reminder that there are good moments when I was in the middle of a stressful moment, an echoing of the work I did before birth with my dou ...more
Laura Magid-Aloni
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is full of deeply meaningful insights that as a parent speak authentically to me. It’s been a long time since I read a book where on almost every page I feel myself wanting to shout out “exactly!”. It is an easy read which is imperative to its target audience, the busy parent of young children. This for me is the kind of book I loved and have missed from my pre-parenting life. A book that moves you emotionally, spiritually and hopefully inspires you enough to make some small but real c ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
3.5. Rounded up as I’m amazed at how parts of this book have really stuck with me. This was gifted to us when Marie was born. It was a nice companion when pumping in the early days. Lol. While read in tiny bits at a time, the stories and lessons were relatable and stuck with me and helped me focus on the positive parts of parenting while being reminded that parenting is challenging for (most) everyone. About halfway through I set it down and rediscovered it after I became a stay at home mom (tha ...more
Emily Anderle
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg helps parents reframe the difficult act of parenting as a spiritual practice. While she acknowledges that parenting can be hard and boring and even excruciating at times, she guides us to stay present in those moments as a means to encounter the Divine. And she gives so much grace, reminding us again and again that it is a spiritual practice designed to make you better, not a performance. This book is not about how to change your children but about how to allow your love o ...more
Lisa Bernstein
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read many books on Jewish spirituality, but this is by far the best. Ruttenberg takes ideas that Heschel makes grandiose and abstract and brings them to every day reality of a parent of young children. She comes from a Jewish perspective, and also brings in other traditions as well. Her stories are easy to relate to, and she references diverse writers and thinkers. I would love to hear her speak, even though my children are older. I would also love for her to write another version of this b ...more
Julia Glassman
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Danya Ruttenberg on twitter, and this book contains a lot of wisdom. In particular, I loved her interpretation of the Adam and Eve story, in which God asks "where are you?" not as an angry lord out for punishment, but as a compassionate parent looking to understand what's going on in their children's heads. My one complaint is that it's a bit repetitive at times, but it's still very much worth reading. ...more
Holli Arnold
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author emphasizes being in the present moment with your kids…seeing the world from their perspective…embracing them for who they are where they currently are…that there is beauty in even the mundane tasks of taking care of young kids. However, the author is very long-winded and she belabored her points…the book would’ve been better if it was a third of its length
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sabbatical
This is the book I've been waiting for since I had a kid 5 years ago. Finally, wisdom that transforms my mind and my heart in the daily experience of parenting! I've found parenting books mostly useless and impractical, so I was slow to pick this one up even though the title intrigued me (and it was given to me). This is great. ...more
Jackie Jacobsen-Côté
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The parenting book I really needed to read. Recommend for anyone looking for the deeper meaning in parent-child relationships. I feel like I've looked at my son (slightly) differently since finishing this book (in a good way). ...more
Amanda McDermott
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Soooo good if you're a parent and you are connected to your spirituality. Or if you're neither of those things, but want to understand the connection between the two. Or if you're a human. It's just really good. ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author has a way of making you think about different things.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book that I plan on revisiting over the years.

I can’t wait to get to some of Rabbi Ruttenberg’s other books.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were good takeaways but I think the length could have been cut by at least a third.
This is an excellent blend of theology, insight, humor, and relatable stories. It's one to return to for sure. ...more
Ben Edwards
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a powerful book! A bold statement of the truth that the painfully mundane aspects of parenting are not a distraction from spiritual engagement, but a doorway into it. I will be drawing from this book for a while.
Erin Rolfson
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From Raincoast Books for honest review:

Every once in a while I come across a parenting book that makes me completely reexamine the way I mother. Mothers of the Village was the last one to do that. Danya Ruttenberg does it again.

I love how in the description of this book it states that this is a parenthood book. It really is! Nurture the Wow doesn’t teach you how to parent, but rather how to be a more connected, more grounded, more fulfilled parent.

I’m not Jewish, but I loved learning more abou
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Giving love changes us and our children. Love is necessary as air. It's how we tap into one another, find each other; how we grow and flourish, magnificently, together. It's inconvenient and it's maddening and it's frustrating and it's sometimes painfully difficult to love another person, especially our own child. But this love is our spiritual practice. It is our work and our task down here this mortal coil. It is not only the oxygen that we offer to our children, it's what makes us able to br ...more
Autumn Byrd
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
Calling all mothers, soon to be mothers and ladies who want to become mothers!

Nurture the Wow brings all the various sides of motherhood to life if all these tales of experience with children. The book engages the reader to find the true spiritual enlightenment with the nitty gritty of parenting. It brings to light all the precious moments and all the "ripping hair out by the seams" moments as well. Not only that, but this book really helps encourage parents and families to be to find the deligh
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hands down the best book on parenting that I have read thus far.

Ruttenberg elegantly explores the idea of parenting as a spiritual discipline, reframing how we approach that task. She asks how we might draw nearer to God through the role of parenting, seeing it as a sacred role, while also recognizing how hard and mundane it can be some days.

This is a book that I'll be returning to again and again in the coming years.
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you believe yourself to be spiritual or seeking and have young children, this is a wonderful read. The author is Jewish, but references a variety of faiths. It hits home, is attainable and the author speaks from a real and even raw perspective. It's both enlightening and reassuring for a parent in the midst of the early years of their journey. ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really loved this and found so many thoughts, nuggets, turns of phrases to save and refer back to. At times, the author gets a bit romantic about parenthood, which she acknowledges.

Overall this is not a how-to book about parenting but instead a book about being a parent, and that being a parent can be so much more than the typical picture that is usually painted for us.
Tammy K
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not a typical parenting book in that it approaches parenting as a spiritual discipline in which to connect deeper with our Creator. Thoroughly enjoyed the author's insights and perspectives that comes from her own parenting experiences as well as her Jewish faith. ...more
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Play Book Tag: Nurture the Wow by Danya Ruttenberg, 3.5 stars 1 8 Mar 23, 2017 06:50PM  
Goodreads giveaway! 1 3 Feb 16, 2016 11:58PM  

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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is the author of Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books, April 2016) and Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), the latter of which was nominated for the 2010 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and a 2009 Hadassah Boo ...more

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