When we think about soldiers and all they go through overseas, it can be easy to forget about the loved ones left behind. However, Brooke Hayes — a mother raising kids while her husband serves — never forgets. The popular Facebook page Love Matters posted a photo and story submitted by Hayes that shows her daughter eating breakfast with her “daddy doll.” She wrote:
“This morning I took my kids out for breakfast, and my youngest daughter brought along her daddy doll. She likes to bring it along on our adventures as a family. She will pretend to feed it, talk to it, and act like he is with us until we are reunited as a family again. This morning strangers came up to our table after seeing the doll and thanked us for our service as a family, and some told us about the days when they served in the military.
A few times strangers have cried after seeing the daddy doll and once someone told my son to take care of his family until his daddy comes home. Men and women leave their families for weeks, months, or a year and many people will never know what that is like. When we got the daddy doll I thought it would be a good way to connect our little ones to their father but in a way it has connected us to strangers too.”
Apparently daddy dolls are common among military families, and kids snuggle with them at night, or bring them along on what would be family outings. Parents from all over the U.S. reached out, opening up about their own daddy dolls, and how hard it is to be the spouse of someone deployed.
And we can’t forget about mommy dolls! Kids with mothers in the military also become attached to these female counterparts.
Hayes’s post serves as a reminder of how powerful leaning on others for support can be. Her photo and truthful words brought together thousands of people, who felt comforted and connected, even if just for a little while. “When we got the daddy doll I thought it would be a good way to connect our little ones to their father,” she finished her post. “But in a way it has connected us to strangers too.”