The Joys of Fatherhood: I Got You, Babe
Tim Colleran with daughter Ryan, 14 months
"Every day, good or bad, is made infinitely better when I am greeted by my daughter's quick crawl to meet me, the pure joy of her smile, and her boisterous laughter when I pick her up."
Self-portrait; Brooklyn, NY
Arthur Scales, Jr. with daughter Kailyn, 6 months
"When Mommy needs a break, I take Kailyn upstairs to our play area. We read a few books, talk, watch sports together -- that's our time, and I cherish it."
Photograph by Kristan Jones-Scales; Atlanta, GA
Cpl. Kyle Foster with daughter Rylie, 7 months
"The very best thing about fatherhood is being able to be a kid again. You have a perfect excuse to act like a child, and no one thinks you're crazy."
Photograph by Ashley Foster; Grottoes, VA
Keith Crawford with daughter Claire, 7 months
"I've learned more about love in the past several months than I did in the first 30 years."
Photograph by Meagan K Photography; Little Rock, AR
Brian Owens with twin daughters Ellie and Olivia, 3 months
"When the girls were very little, Olivia got her leg stuck in her crib during the night and woke up screaming. I bolted out of bed and frantically broke the crib rails, injuring my shoulder. Thankfully, she was fine. But it was at that moment that I realized I never wanted anything to hurt them and I would do whatever it took to keep them safe and happy."
Photograph by Tammy Tkac; Raymond, OH
Dylan Crewell with daughter Audrey, 3 months
"Nothing makes me happier than nibbling on her chubby little legs and arms and hearing her roar with laughter."
Photograph by Chantal Andrea; New Rochelle, NY
Brandon Todd with son Logan, 4 months
"I love being there for all the firsts, like the first time he saw the ocean and felt sand between his toes."
Photograph by Julie Todd; Little River, SC
Michael Cohen with son Oliver, 1 year
"The best part of fatherhood is sharing every 'guess what he did,' 'did you see that?' and 'is he really ours?' with my wife."
Photograph by Parents lifestyle director Amanda Kingloff; Brooklyn, NY
Ted Pham with daughter Madeline, 8 months
"I'm into gadgets, so I'm not surprised that Madeline always has her hands on TV remotes and cell phones. She's definitely my kid."
Photograph by Christie Pham; Pittsburgh, PA
Tim Bennett with daughter Analeigh, 9 months
"Analeigh has thousands of expressions, just like me. I love it when people say, 'Oh, now that was a Daddy face.'"
Photograph by Allie Bennett; Parkersburg, WV
Brian West with daughter Charlotte, 6 months
"The first night we were alone with Charlotte, she wouldn't stop crying. We tried everything to calm her down. Finally I started softly singing one of my favorite songs -- 'Eight Days a Week,' by The Beatles -- and she instantly stopped. She just looked at me as if she had known me for years. I'll never forget it."
Photograph by Lauren West; Tarzana, CA
Spc. Joshua Lackey with son Jude, 6 months
"I'm not perfect, but becoming a dad has made me a lot more patient. Not everything will turn out the way you planned, and there's no way to control it."
Photograph by Bobbi Lackey; Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Gerardo Acevedo with son Caleb, 8 months
"Before I became a dad, I was always looking for the next task to work on. Now I realize how beautiful it is to simply slow down and watch Caleb become the little man he's growing into."
Photograph by Monica Acevedo; North Bergen, NJ
Shaun Osting with son Gabriel, 3 weeks
"Gabriel was born two months early and stayed in the NICU for what seemed like the longest 17 days of my life. Every day he got stronger and stronger, but during that time I would have given anything to take his place. He means everything to me."
Photograph by Michelle Alvarez; Pottstown, PA
Originally published in the June 2012 issue of Parents magazine.