When I first met my then boyfriend, Tyler, he was basically a kid. Tyler avoided responsibilities; he didn’t have a care in the world other than his own enjoyment. Tyler was careless and care-free because he could be. His life was a downward spiral, but he didn’t care—he was unstoppable.
Then I got pregnant.
I was scared that he wouldn’t live up to the standards I had for a good father. But something dramatic started happening. Tyler insisted on being at every appointment; he didn’t want to miss any little thing. He wouldn’t let me go without anything; whether it was something I needed for my health, or to eat, or just to amuse me during my day. He waited on me hand and foot and wouldn’t let me do anything on my own. He wouldn’t even let me do something as simple as picking something up off the floor! Suddenly, he was very conscious of his responsibilities. And boy, did it show! Not only did he meet my standards, he exceeded them.
Then, at 9:07 pm on December 12, 2013, he laid eyes on Izabella Marie—and she was instantly his whole world. She has his undivided attention from the second she wakes up in the morning, until she remains fast asleep at night. Even after Izabella is asleep his mind is still on her as we settle in ourselves. Father and daughter are not completely happy unless they are close together at all times.
Becoming a father was the best thing that happened to Tyler. “If not for you and Izabella,” Tyler says, “I would probably be a dead man”. (And if you could see his face, you would know how serious he is.) But if only Tyler could see through my eyes just how much he lights up around his daughter, the complete glow he has—I know he would see that he is the best thing that happened to Izabella and me.
The changes between the man I met, and the man I plan to marry in February of 2015 practically makes him look like two different people. I don’t mind, because there are still those things that I fell in love with and continue to love with every fiber of my being. Becoming a father transformed Tyler the kid into Tyler the responsible man—from a person who didn’t care, to a caring person. Tyler came to understand that the way he was living before wasn’t living—it was existing. Now he strives to always do better for the sake of his family.
Something about those two that I’m always slightly envious of is that Izabella’s daddy can be kissing on her tummy and tickling her and this little girl will laugh her head off like it’s the greatest and funniest thing in the whole wide world. Not once have I been successful at getting her to laugh exactly like that for me. But even so, as I watch my man play with our daughter, I realize how grateful I am that Tyler is my daughter’s father, and that we are a family.
This article is part of a series on how parenthood changes us, and how children are changed by their parents. Each article explores themes raised in the new report, Mother Bodies, Father Bodies: How Parenthood Changes Us From the Inside Out.