Life for Erica and Tina Atkins-Campbell was starkly different in the spring of 2000. The sisters and then-roommates, now better known by their stage name, Mary Mary, were single, childless and on the brink of gospel music stardom. Their debut single, "Shackles," would help them achieve it, and serves as an ironic anthem to the carefree life they led until that point.
But the sisters said they've barely had a free moment in the 12 years since, prompting talk of a hiatus and a breakup. They told The Huffington Post they hadn't yet decided whether to continue performing together, but it's clearly on their minds.
"Now that we’re evolving as women, we feel like we've made a pretty substantial mark with Mary Mary," Tina, 38, said. "It’s part natural. It’s part being prepared for the next phase in life. We may just need to take some time to reassess, to pray and seek God and find out what we can individually offer to the world."
Tina said she is finding life on the go particularly challenging of late, toting an infant -- her fourth (and what she calls her last), 3-month-old Santana -- to appearances and promotions for the second season of reality series, "Mary Mary," on WE tv.
"Tina has her 3-month-old with us, which means she’s not getting that much sleep on schedules where we have to wake up at 4:45 in the morning to be ready for 5 o’clock glam calls and be on absolutely all day," her sister Erica, 40, explained, adding that she, too, struggles to keep up appearances without missing milestones in the lives of her three children at home. "I'm on the phone constantly ... to check on them and make sure making sure my daughter doesn’t start walking while I’m gone," Erica said, referring to her daughter Zaya born in January.
Still, the sisters said their families aren't the reason they may take a break. "We always knew that we wanted to work and have kids," TIna said. "We never looked at the kids or the husbands as a reason to not be a group. That’s not the motivation for either of us. It is 12 years -- time to reassess, reevaluate, take a moment, breathe, inhale, exhale, all of that."
Much like the years it took Mary Mary to achieve personal and professional success, the sisters said a transition is going to take time. "We can’t exactly tell you how it plays out, because we’re figuring that out every day," Tina said.
"If Mary Mary is not meant to be together ... it’ll be a smooth transition into whatever the next phase is," Erica added. "It definitely won’t be a contentious, selfish decision. It’ll be something that our passions and what we feel our spirit is telling us to do."
Until then, the sisters said they're going to continue to honor the commitments they have together, including January's Stellar Awards, and will give it their all.
One thing the sisters won't do in January, however, is make New Year's resolutions. "I think it’s better to take the mindset that 'I’m going to make a life decision, not because this is what I should do, but because this is something that ... I’m compelled to do,'" said TIna. "This is what everything in me feels like I should be doing. This is how I become better. This is how I enjoy life a little more.'"
"I would add to that, trust your instincts, but don’t make an emotional decision, because your emotions will lead you to make decisions that could be momentary but it’ll have a lasting effect."
Getting a reign on emotions is a common theme for Tina in the upcoming season of the duo's reality show. "I was the meanest person that I knew," Tina said. (Be quiet, Erica.) "I was hormonal and unfriendly and unhappy, especially the last month of my pregnancy. I don’t think I’ve ever had my sleep interrupted for so many months before having the baby as I did with this child -- and I was very unapologetic for it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it."
Watch a peek of "Mary Mary" here.