By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
dad.Watching my husband cram into a tiny kiddie pool with our four little ones, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling: This is not the man I married. Not only is he better than that guy (no offense to my college sweetheart!), but he's changed in ways I never could have anticipated. I chalk it up to having kids. Everyone talks about how transformative new motherhood is for women, but you don't hear as much about how it changes men-and change them it does. For instance, I always knew my husband was strong, but strength takes on a whole new meaning when I watch him wrestle with my boys, taking kicks to the kidney in order to protect them from their own unbridled strength.
When we were dating, I knew my husband was smart, but no final exam prowess can compare to the time he remembered the Heimlich maneuver and saved our son from choking while I ran around screaming hysterically. And I'd always admired his quirky sense of humor, but never more so than the night all our kids were vomiting, the dryer had broken, and I was using my blow dryer to air out a puked-on blankie at 2 a.m. My husband looked at me and said "You know, just because the tag says 'dry clean only'..."
Related: How My Husband and I are Defining Fatherhood
So in honor of Father's Day, I've asked dads (and some of their wives) to share the how fatherhood has changed them for the best:
"Joe has become more respectful to me in general so the kids can see what a successful marriage looks like! He also helps with housework so they see that they should, too." - Anna
"My husband has always been safety conscious, but now that he's a dad he's gone overboard! He NEVER speeds; he walks around the car before he backs up; he insists on seatbelts even if we are going one block; he won't let anyone under 12 sit in the passenger seat; he always checks the locks before going to sleep; and (most recently) he has gotten his concealed carry permit and a child-safe lock for road trips to the big city." - Becky
Related: Make Your Father's Day Wishes Facebook-Official
"It has made me be much more patient and prepared. If you're a single father, it makes you have to plan out snacks, meals, drinks, medicine, toys, and making sure the tech gadgets are charged before you leave the house." - Sgt. Tim
"My husband grew up with only brothers. He's a manly man. I love the dazed and confused look on his face when our daughter (our only child) asks him to play Barbies or dress-up with her. He sometimes seems overwhelmed by all the girlie things at our house like pink, glitter, and more pink. He's a good sport, and even though I'm sure he misses Transformers, it is really attractive that he adores his daughter enough to get his toenails painted." - Mandy
"I had my son in a previous marriage and am now unable to have any more children. Although he hasn't had the experience of falling instantly in love when his child was born, I have seen him fall in love with my son and vice versa. It has been an incredible thing to witness, watching this man who had no responsibilities before he met us, taking them all in stride and welcoming his 'instant' family. He never views our son as someone else's and would walk through fire for him." - Tonia
Related: Top 10 Things Parents Hate About Potty Training
"Around my belly!" - Jared
"I have to lock the bedroom door when my wife approves some 'afternoon delight.' Before the kids, I hardly even locked the front door!" - Joe
"My ex-husband is a much better dad since our divorce. I am thankful for the new and improved relationship he has with our daughters." - Anne
"I remember right after our daughter was born, my husband turned to me and said, 'This is my new barometer: I will never do or say anything I couldn't look her in the eye and share.'" - Carla
How has fatherhood changed your man?
More from REDBOOK:
25 Hot Celebrity Dads
10 Ways Happy Couples Get Closer
- 10 Ways to Make Leftovers Incredible
- Fun, Cheap Date Ideas
- 8 Tips for Baby-Soft Skin
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.