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13 Dads on the Very Best and Most Surprising Parts of Fatherhood

Photo Credit: @renwejules

To all the dads, daddies, fathers, stepdads, father figures, papas, and pops, thank you. We know you come in many beautiful forms and that the hard work of good parenting can be unseen. We see you, we appreciate you, we cherish you. 

In honor of Father’s Day we checked in with 13 beloved dads in our orbit and asked them to share their takes on the triumphs, struggles, and sweet surprises of fatherhood. 

What surprised you most about being a dad?

“The way it brought me closer to my wife. I always had an idea about what being a co parent would look and feel like, but was blown away by how simpatico my wife and I were--and really how simpatico we had to be--in the early months of my son's life. This was a surprise in the best kind of way.” - Kelly Ross, dad to Jack, 2, and James, 4 months

“How high pitched my voice would become when talking to my kids. I never thought I would be that guy. How incredibly amazed I am by the littlest of things in their development - the way she says something, how he lifts his head - it’s all mind-blowingly simple and beautiful over and over again.” - Justin Lopez, dad to Maya, 19 months, and Henry, 1 month

“There is something innate that I can’t recall learning, but I must have somewhere along the way. It took a little bit of time to believe it, but as long as I’m around, I AM able to do this and I DO know what’s best for him. At least for now.” - Chris Chespak, dad to Thomas, 20 months 

“How much I did not know and had no concept of what our parents went through and did for us.” - Marshall Kauffman, dad to Jesse, 4 months

“How much I enjoyed changing her diapers at first. It allowed for some quality one on one time.” - Kyle Lopez, dad to Gwen, 8 months

What small fatherhood moments do you enjoy?

“When they do something new - pick up their head, smile, make a noise, it all moves so fast.” Mike Mikho, dad to Margot, 3 months

“Being the one to open the door in the morning. The smile a child gives when you are the first face to come and get them from the crib is irreplaceable.” - Nate Borowitz, dad to Stella, 10 months

“I enjoy baby snuggles more than anything.” - Steve Hagy, dad to twins Hudson and Thayer, 3

“When she catches my eye from across the room and gives me a big smile. And whenever she lets out a belly laugh.” - Kyle Lopez, dad to Gwen, 8 months

“Preparing lunch for my son daily for preschool. My dad did the same for me, and it feels very rewarding, even silently, to think I'm carrying on a tradition of sorts.” - Kelly Ross, dad to Jack, 2, and James, 4 months

“There is nothing better than your child running up to greet you after a long day.” - Clayton Saiger, dad to June, 2

“Little dumb things. Biting my face. Or now he puts his hand in my mouth or grabs one of my chins like a hand-hold. Or feeding him and getting him to react to a food. Anything that's dumb that normally is nothing, but with your kid it's like, ‘oh, this is fatherhood.’” - Kyle Hampton, dad to Hart, 7 months

Where do you thrive and where do you struggle?

“I think I do well just being present with her in the moments that we have. I can struggle in those tense, stressful moments when she is crying and there is nothing we can do to appease her.” - Kyle Lopez, dad to Gwen, 8 months

“I have found a good routine of preparing bottles, my wife's pumps, diapers, wipes, etc. every night before bed. This has really helped me get through more of the day before I feel like I am getting behind or stressed. I can struggle during the Jurassic Park stage as we call it, the noise is unnerving (noise cancelling headphones help). Also, listening to your baby cry and knowing you can't do anything to help them in that moment is the toughest part; whether it is while driving or when they are going down for a nap, etc.” - Nate Borowitz, dad to Stella, 10 months

“I love enjoying and being around our kids, it feeds me. I struggle trying to stop them from sticking their finger in the fan and listening to them without prejudice.” - Dave Ghirardelli, dad to Anna, 32, and Tessa, 30

“I struggle all over the place. Ha. I struggle most with patience--not recognizing that I need to always act my age and model the behavior I wish to see reflected. I thrive in providing home-support to my wife; doing dishes, cleaning bottles, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. all of the tasks that allow her to be able to focus and/or relax when the opportunity arises. I feel like a provider when I can manage the house in this way.” - Kelly Ross, dad to Jack, 2, and James, 4 months

“I thrive as a provider and can be there emotionally the second I'm needed. I struggle with my own ego and the fact that they are their own individual and I need to know when to not force my own views.” - Adam McCowan, dad to Willow, 9 years

What did you think when you first saw your baby?

“This is what a miracle looks like.” - Justin Lopez, dad to Maya, 19 months, and Henry, 1 month

“After the shock of how awesome birth is and holding them for a while and being euphoric with excitement, I honestly was terrified. So much responsibility all at once.” - Steve Hagy, dad to twins Hudson and Thayer, 3

“Honestly I think it was ‘holy shit my wife is amazing.’ Like seeing the doctor hold him up I was so in awe and I turned to Molly and just went, ‘he's perfect, you're perfect, I'm so proud of you.’ Childbirth is just so immeasurably impressive, and seeing him and her and the emotion it was like, ‘wow I can't believe she carried him and delivered him and he's so perfect, I am so impressed.’”- Kyle Hampton, dad to Hart, 7 months

What advice would you give a brand new dad?

“Imagine having a child is like running a marathon that doesn't end. It’s exhausting, it’s emotionally rewarding, it’s really a huge achievement, and there’s lots of ways to have a kid.” - Dr. Levine, dad to Izzy, 4, and Addy, 3 months

“Don't worry, you can do it. People have been having babies for a long time, without all the tips and advice and gadgets we have access to today. You can do it.” - Mike Mikho, dad to Margot, 3 months

“Abstractly: your baby WILL sleep. They WILL stop crying. No baby cries forever. This too shall pass. That mantra really helped during sleep regression and early cry-all-the-time nights.” - Kyle Hampton, dad to Hart, 7 months

“Stop. Watch. You both have a lot to learn from one another.” - Chris Chespak, dad to Thomas, 20 months 

“Love them, make them feel safe, be an example (hopefully good, but in reality what not to be is good too) and know when to get out of the way. The last one is the hardest.” - Dave Ghirardelli, dad to Anna, 32, and Tessa, 30

Dads, we love to hear from you. What surprised you most about fatherhood? 

 Written by Jessica Lopez. Jessica Lopez is a freelance writer, digital content creator, and new mother. She has covered all lifestyle topics ranging from bridal to beauty for publications including Brides Magazine, Byrdie, THE/THIRTY, and more. Walking wide-eyed into motherhood has inspired her to connect with other parents through her writing and shared experience. You can follow more of her journey @Jessica.H.Lopez