Rite of passage parenting: Grandpa’s hormone problem
After 40 years of working with teenagers, I’ve seen my fair share of the way hormones can play havoc in young people’s lives. I’ve watched teenage girls cry for four hours with no clue to as to why. I’ve seen a testosterone eruption overtake over a young man and cause him to become enraged over nothing. I lived with my wife and her hormonal imbalances during the months she was pregnant with our two sons. And now, I have a daughter-in-love carrying our first grandchild.
At first, being pregnant didn’t seem to affect her. Then one day, she turned into the queen of Sheba combined with Count Dracula and didn’t know what had hit her. She even posted on her Facebook that her hormones had gotten the best of her that day.
What I didn’t expect was that her pregnancy would get the best of my hormones, too. This big burly missionary has turned into a puddle of emotional jelly. Friends come up to me and say, “I heard your son and his wife are having a baby.”
I find myself tearing up as I choke out the words, “I’m going to be a granddad.” Then I pull out the latest sonogram to reveal my grandchild looking more like a gummy bear than a human being. You can barely make out its tiny head bunched up with even tinier feet and arms. If you cross your eyes, you might think the little gummy is sucking its thumb. I can’t tell much by this blurry picture, but I can tell you one thing: this child is already the most beautiful baby anyone has ever seen.
The other day, my wife and I were watching a TV show and on came a commercial for diapers. Little children paraded across the screen, some walking and others crawling, but all wearing the sponsors’ products. Tears rushed to my eyes as I tried to speak without breaking down. I turned to my wife and said, “Soon, we’re going to have one of those crawling around our house.”
Yesterday, my wife and I went to Wal-Mart. As usual, she went from one end of the store to the other finding everything she needed: groceries, medicine, paper products and more. And as usual, I went to the electronic department to check out the important stuff like TVs, computers, headphones and movies. I was looking at a DVD when I realized Wal-Mart has a special layout: electronics, then shoes and baby clothes. As I thumbed through the DVDs, I couldn’t but help but glance over the shoe department to notice some of the cutest baby clothes I’ve ever seen.
The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the baby department, looking at the safety ratings on car seats and holding up onesies while I imagined how cute they’d look on a gummy bear. Around the corner, a new mother stood holding a gummy bear of her own. I couldn’t help but tear up, thinking about how precious life can be.
This morning, my son called and said he was having a problem at home. Their used washing machine had washed its final load, and he had already written out the death certificate. A thought came to mind: What kind of granddad would let his grandchild come into this world without a washing machine?
I called my son and told him I was leaving work immediately to come over with my pickup truck. “We’ll take the old washer out, and while I have my truck there, we’ll go pick out another one.” By noon, a new washing machine sat in their home in all its glory. And all I could think was that now my grandgummy will have the cleanest clothes in the world.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t even write this article. My hormones took over again this morning and I’m a mess.
I was excited about having my own children, but I don’t ever remember feeling this way. All my friends who have grandchildren keep telling me this grandparent experience is wonderful and different. “You’re going to be caught off-guard by this new baby,” they say. I don’t know how much more off-guard I can be than I am as we await the great arrival.
In spite of my hormones, this time of preparing to be a grandfather is teaching me more about God. He has always loved his children but more than anything else, He desires that they reproduce and have grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great, great-grandchildren. These children of children will come from every tribe, tongue and nation. And tears or no tears, hormones or no hormones, that’s the only way His family will . . . grow.