10th Anniversary Spotlight: Showered Mom Kristen M.

Kristen Michalack's son

Operation Shower Mom – 2015

When and where was your Operation Shower experience?

We were showered at the Oh, Baby! themed shower with The Travelers Championship in June 2015 in CT. (Travelers)

How old is your Operation Shower baby now?

He is 2, as of April 17th.

Were you separated from your partner during your pregnancy or early months of your baby’s life?

Yes- my husband left when my son was 5 days old. We induced in order to be able to have the first few days together.

How many children do you have?

We have only one so far.

Are you or your partner active duty?

He is not currently active duty. My husband is in the National Guard and was deployed the first 10 months of my son’s life.

What is/was the most challenging part of being a military family?

The challenging part of being a military family, particularly in the National Guard, is not having friends and family who understand your situation. Being a National Guard family, we don’t have a base to call home and all of our military sisters are spread far and wide. While we have the luxury of a permanent address, our neighbors are unfamiliar with the sacrifices, challenges, and nuances that come with having a deployed spouse.

What is the most rewarding part of being a military family?

The most rewarding part of being a military family is having the ability to know that your sacrifice, however large or small, allows so many others the freedoms we all enjoy. It’s like we are all one big family – military and civilian alike.

What is your favorite memory of your Operation Shower experience?

I could never pick just one! However, I would have to say the best part was not feeling alone in my journey and being able to connect with others like me.

Kristen Michalack's son and husbandWhat did Operation Shower mean to you when you were pregnant or a new mom?

I honestly did not know what to expect when I signed up for this. But, all throughout and when I left the shower, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy, gratitude, and belonging. I called my husband as quickly as I could and those feelings quickly relayed to him. Looking back on it, that is probably the best part of the experience. I still cannot imagine how difficult it was for my husband to be torn from his son and wife, but for him to have this phone call where my joy was palpable was a high point of his deployment. Him knowing his wife and child were taken care of and had a wonderful day out meant the world to him!

If you could offer some words of encouragement to other military moms, what would it be?

Wow- great question! I still wonder how we made it through sometimes. The days do drag on. However, you have to find all the ways you can to connect, not only with your soldier and your military family, but all the people you can. With my husband, we found ways to Skype date and watch movies together. We still tried to maintain the fun but also allowed each other to vent when we needed it. With my friends and family, I learned I didn’t have to be so stoic and strong with them and that it was OK to ask for help. I also used social media to connect with other moms/wives/girlfriends in similar situations. I connected with those near and far, but especially those near me whose spouses left on the same deployment. We would keep each other in the loop, meet up, and do whatever we could for one another. When you’re in the military, strangers become family and the right bonds form lasting friendships.

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