There are a lot of things out there to keep families in touch and help them cope during deployments, so some people have wondered “Why Flat Jared”? Well, there are a few reasons, some serious and one not quite so serious.
First, my kids. Mira was just 11 months old when Jared left, so we knew that regular contact with him was important if she was going to remember who he was. It’s hard for very young children to make the connection between a wallet size photo and a life size person standing in front of them, we chose a Flat Daddy so that she would be more familiar with a full size smiling guy around the house. We’re all aware by now of how hard previous wars and conflicts have been on the kids and families left at home, and how hard it is for soldiers when they return home and their children cry and run away because they don’t know who that person is. We are blessed in this day and age to have other resources available, why not utilize them? We talked on the phone and computer as often as we could, and when she saw him on the computer screen and uttered her first word “Daddy”, it was a huge relief and the emotional payout was indescribable.
Second, my kids. Our oldest son has special needs. That’s a whole other blog on its own, trust me. He has a difficult time with transitions and deviations from his routine. Unexpected changes can be life shattering for him. I’m pleased to say that after a lot of work he’s doing really well and we’ve come a long way in the last few years. But he was only 6 when Jared left, and life can be hard to understand for even your typical 6 year old. We spent a long time preparing the kids for the fact that dad was leaving, and we thought this was a fun way to focus on how much our family loves each other rather than the suckitude of the deployment. This was especially important for Jeff, his immense brain power and high anxiety make him acutely aware of what war means and what the reality of his dad’s situation was, any distraction was quite welcome.
Third, fun. I like to goof off, a lot. My husband? Not so much. Bwahahaha, now I get to make him goof off by proxy. And much like Halloween gives you an excuse to dress like a crazy person and eat ridiculous amounts of candy, Flat Jared let me get away with all kinds of stuff people would normally give me weird looks for. Life is too short to to worry about what other people think. Get out and have fun for pete sake! People really got behind the Flat Daddy concept when we went out and it was a real joy to pass along their comments and gratitude to RJ and all our friends in the service. Again, people are amazing. I don’t care what anyone says, people are really good at the core.
Last of all, my husband. 13 months away from everyone you love is a long time, even if you’re not hanging out in the middle of a giant sandbox in sweltering heat with dirt stuck in every nook and cranny. I wanted him to know that we were okay, and that we were staying strong as a family even though he wasn’t right there with us. Even when things were less than ideal (stolen car and hospital stay anyone?) he could see that we love him and think of him often. Time zones and sketchy communication as it was, a blog seemed like the most consistent way to do this.
Ultimately, you do what’s right for you. We made a decision that we felt was a good one for our family and I don’t regret a bit of it. The transition home was rough, it always is, but I feel like we did our best to prepare and that really helped. Flat Daddies won’t “solve” anything, but as part of a dynamic approach that includes lots and lots of family discussion and planning, they can work small miracles. And sometimes it’s the small things that get you through the hard days…

4 Responses to “Why Flat Daddy?”

  1. Letty Gonzales Says:

    I saw your story in Parade and it just made my heart smile! This is such a great way to keep your husband and father involved in the family. Also is great for your daughter to “see” him every day. I admire you and other service spouses who get left behind with all the duties that life brings you. I will be praying for you and your family. I am going to tell everyone I know about Flat Daddies/Mommies and how they can donate for those who can’t afford to get their own. It truly is the least that we can do for our men & women who lay their lives down for us. Thank you for sharing your story! God Bless!!!

    1. Us Says:

      That’s the kind of response I like to hear! Every little bit really helps, and I like the thought of many people coming together to help a family they don’t even know, just for the pure purpose of bringing them joy. Thank you so much!

  2. Candi Says:

    I loved reading you blog and seeing how you used the flat daddy. I was thinking of giving it a try for our family. Good Luck from one Miltary Fam to another!

  3. Susie Pearson Says:

    I also saw your story in Parade and loved it. My daughter and son-in-law are both in the Navy. She is pregnant with their first baby, a girl due in March. He deployed in mid-January and will miss the big day. So when we saw your story and the Flat Daddy we knew what we needed to do for the family. We plan to make sure that “Daddy” is there every step of the way! Thanks for your wonderful idea and for sharing your story with all of us. Thank you to your husband for his service! God bless you all.

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