Clear Through the Parenting Clutter to Recapture a Sense of Wonder

New parents get overwhelmed, regularly pushed to their limits and confused by contradictory feelings of elation and near-despair.

A recent New York Times article shared parenting advice you really need. One parent contributed this gem: "You're allowed to feel overwhelmed and overjoyed. You can be both. Feeling it all doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you human." 

This is the premise behind the new book from Alicia Jo Rabins. Humorous, self-reflective, and comforting, Rabin’s musings on both heartening and cringe-worthy biblical examples of parenting can help any caregiver see beyond the detritus of day-today living with young children and recapture a sense of wonder at the process of raising small humans.

Parents do worry at their failed attempts to be perfect, and Rabins' short, personal essays can lead parents to new perspectives and even to embrace a vital concept that English pediatrician and psychologist D.W. Winnicott called the "good enough parent." 

The supportive and inspirational writings of her gentle parenting book can help any soul embarked on this wild, sacred work recognize the wisdom of poet Norman Fischer’s advice that “the only transcendence is fully embracing the ups and downs.”

This collection draws on Alicia Jo Rabins’ years of experience as a writer, Bible scholar, and feminist Jewish educator, and is based on her popular series of articles on parenting for Kveller. 

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Alicia Jo Rabins is an award-winning performer, musician, poet, writer, and Jewish scholar whose recent film, A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff, is being exhibited at film festivals throughout the U.S., most recently at the New York Jewish Film Festival. Winner of the 2015 Honickman Book Prize, and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, she is also the author of Divinity School and Fruit Geode, and creator of Girls in Trouble, an indie rock song cycle. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Find her at


EXCERPT from Even God Had Bad Parenting Days:

I so appreciate the fact that in the Torah, the main characters--including God--all have moments of acting like overwhelmed parents. Despite the best intentions of remaining patient and compassionate, they, like us, lose their cool.

For example, the Exodus from Egypt. We love to celebrate this story of miraculous liberation. Less often do we mention that the recently liberated Israelites are extremely whiny. (Sound familiar?)

They're tired of wandering in the desert, and they sit around complaining about how they miss the delicious meat they used to eat in Egypt. Moses, like a stressed-out parent, finally hits a wall. He can't take any more whining and complains to God that he'd rather die than lead these people.

And how does God handle this? By making quail rain down from the sky, then sending a plague to kill the Israelites who choose to eat it.

This is not a pretty story. In fact, it is exactly this kind of thing that makes people think of God as a vengeful guy in the sky with a white beard.

But reading this as a mother, I think . . . who am I to judge? I get it. I've had crappy parenting days too . . .

My favorite thing about this story, though, is what happens next: nothing. The Israelites keep walking, Moses stays on as their leader, and God continues to accompany them through the wilderness. In the end, this terrible episode is just a blip in their relationship.

. . .

Even our worst parenting moments don't last forever. No matter how rough it gets, we can always apologize. We always get another chance to wake up with our little ones and start over.