The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, “Daddy, I need to ask you something,” he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan. ~Garrison Keillor
Thirty years ago on October 3rd, I became a father for the first time. Her name – Erica Desiree Bullis. Her middle name, which we seldom use, was chosen specifically because it means “the desired one.” After a couple of miscarriages and a close call with this particular pregnancy, Erica came into the world after a long difficult labor for her mom. As a result of the long labor, which was finally ended by a C-section, Erica was born with two eyes that were swollen shut and her head looked like she belonged to the Conehead family. Her thick black hair was sticking up like Don King (make no mistake she was a Mexican baby). But to me, when they brought that little bundle out of the delivery room, I thought she was the most precious thing I had ever seen in my life. I immediately fell in love with that little girl.
We lived in Laredo at the time, where I was working as an Assistant District Attorney. My life changed permanently that day, as it does for many parents. No longer was I able to consider my needs alone. The needs and desires of this precious little one was a new priority for me. I saw the world through different eyes. My boss made a serious mistake assigning me to the Child Abuse section at the office because as a new father, the thought of anyone even thinking about hurting a child was repulsive to me. I wanted them all sent to prison where they could be traded for cigarettes.
Life with daughters is not easy. I kid all the time that my gray hair is not there because of age accumulation, but because I raised daughters. We certainly have had our ups and downs. To this day we have an agreement that we don’t discuss politics with each other just to keep the peace because we think so differently. But to hear the words “Daddy” or now “Pops” immediately gets my attention.
I have been lucky that she has found her soul mate, someone who loves her, protects her, and accepts her for who she is. I read somewhere that watching your daughter go with her mate is like handing over a million dollar Stradivarius to a gorilla. Shaun has made that process a lot easier.
Thirty years of watching her try her hand at so many things. Some she was good at, some not so much. But she has never been afraid to try. In fact, she has tried so many things that it scares her old man to death at times. They include backpacking through Mexico, Central and South America, bungee jumping off a bridge, riding a bike down the most dangerous road in the world, little things like that. And those are only the things that she tells me. I am sure I don’t want to know the other things.
I am so darn proud of her. She is a UT grad (Hook em!), a successful travel blogger (overyonderlust.com), and is becoming an accomplished photographer (first magazine cover this year). But the most important thing is that she brings me joy. She is my daughter, will always be my daughter, and watch out anyone that chooses to criticize her lifestyle, her choices, or her beliefs.
I love you Erica. No success that I can ever have in life will equal being a father. I have you to thank for that. Happy 30th Birthday.