I have always strived to be the tough dad, to be the firm hand that guides her toward making the best possible decisions. I have tried hard not to embitter, but to empower her; to choose her attitude, choose her path, and choose her faith. Sometimes we clashed over minor stuff, sometimes over major stuff. That has mad me the bad guy on more than one occasion; the JERK who would not bend or give. I have been "that dad" who brandishes a firearm when the teenage boy comes knocking on the door for a date. I have spanked, grounded and taken away. I haven't always been the best at encouraging or rewarding, but I have learned to be better and hopefully I was as loving as I needed to be.
But through it all I have been secretly and quietly proud. I did not want to indulge in the luxury of pride for my daughter for fear of falling into the trap of over boasting that I see so many parents get into. So instead I wore the cloak of "tough love" because I knew that my daughter would need it more than the sanguine sensitivity that I'm sure all daughters want from their daddies.
But now that my pumpkin has become a woman, is graduating high school, and moving on to college, I feel as though it may be time to let her know just how proud I really am. She has achieved greater success, in life so far, than I ever did (or that her biological female parent ever did). I never even went to college, let alone get as high a GPA as she does. She may have inherited some of my "slacker betty cracker" traits when it comes to homework, but she always got it done or at least turned in her best effort at the time.
My daughter has made ridiculously good decisions in some situations that I most likely would have epically botched. Other times when she didn't make a good decision, she always felt the weight of it, and came to me for advise or to confess it and try to correct it. She has strived to be a strong Christ follower, and serves others without hesitation. She is learning what it truly means to be a woman of God, and I take very little credit for it. Adrian is the personification of the old adage "It takes a village to raise a child". Many trusted friends and family members have helped me, in ways I cannot count, to be the best father I can be. To those of you who gave me guidance, wisdom, and sometimes a kick in the ass... I am forever in your debt. I have certainly made a plethora of mistakes along the way, but by the grace of God my daughter has a true and sure chance of winning in life.
Next Monday night, when I watch my daughter take her first "real life" victory walk, I will be able to let loose the flood gates of gushing pride and love for the one I named when she was born.