Brooke Hayes decided to take her kids out to eat for breakfast one morning and didn’t think twice about it when her youngest daughter grabbed her “daddy doll” to tag along. While he is away fulfilling his military duties, she likes to include him in their everyday lives. It’s her way of coping until their family is reunited again, and she talks to the doll just like she would talk to her daddy; feeding it, talking to it, and acting like it was a part of everything that they had done that day.
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.”
Every family faces different struggles, and when Brooke decided to share their family’s story online, she had no idea how many people would be touched by a single photo. The dolls are becoming more and more common when a parent or other family members ends up being away from the family for months at a time, either due to service, illness, or circumstance, and the dolls help children to cope. This doll represented so much more to the people who spotted it, and being able to support one another – even by complete strangers – in a time like this was more than this mother could have asked for.
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