For many of my adult years, I was consumed by activity. I married and started a family when I was relatively young, while simultaneously working part-time in my chosen field (marketing/communications) and earning a bachelor’s degree.
Once I had degree in hand, I redoubled my career efforts and took a challenging, full-time marketing job—where I met KitKat (more on that later). I also began a process I’d been considering forever—adopting a preschooler. This was the Holy Grail of my existence: something I had felt called to do my whole life. I have never felt so full of purpose and clarity as when I was working on my daughter’s adoption. Afterward, with my newest child settled into our home life like she was always meant to be there (because, in fact, she was), I felt a sense of fulfillment, but at the same time, a bit aimless. I felt like a bride after the big day or a kid on the 26th of December and was left wondering, “Now what?”
After crossing such big to-dos off my life’s list, being a standard-issue working mother of three didn’t seem like much of a challenge. Although my company did its best to keep me on my toes by changing its brand monthly (that’s only a slight exaggeration), I felt adrift for several years.
Whether you think nature abhors a vacuum or God has a twisted sense of humor, my world was turned upside down in 2003 when my husband was diagnosed with a serious degenerative condition. Wait a minute, God…This wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I needed a purpose! Couldn’t I just adopt another kid instead?
This kicked off what has been a decade of struggle. I knew in my heart that my new “calling” was to be a supportive wife to my husband as he battles his illness, but inwardly I rebelled against that role. (If you ask my friends, family or colleagues to describe me, I can assure you that “caregiver” will not come up anywhere in the description.) So, while I was committed to doing right by my husband, I felt that rising to this particular challenge might kill me in the process.
Denial seemed easier than acceptance, so having taken a decade to earn my BA as a part-time student, I plunged back into the familiar distraction of school. But once my MBA was complete, I finally had to face my new reality. My relationship with my husband needed to be renegotiated at the same time my kids were leaving the nest. I suddenly had more free time than I’ve ever had in my adult life–time to pursue a lifetime of interests that had always been put on hold. But now my husband’s condition complicated things, and I had a burning motivation to escape the premature “senior” lifestyle that his illness seemed to be forcing upon me.
Which brings us back to KitKat—and this blog. KitKat and I have known each other for almost 15 years. In that time, we’ve supported each other through a number of transitions: marriage, infertility, childbirth, adoption, career changes, unemployment, grad school—not to mention hairstyles and fashion trends. I’m a few years older, more established in our mutual field and have double the experience with marriage and kids. Therefore, she’s always looked to me for good advice and usually I can provide it. However, I’ve recently experienced the Peter Principle where my life’s choices are concerned—I’ve risen to the level of my own incompetence and it’s clear that I need a new approach to the rest of my life.
Although we are at different life stages, KitKat and I have similar temperaments—we challenge each other, but can always rely on the other to withhold judgment and to provide sound counsel. We’re on similar journeys with different motivations, different tactics and probably different ideas of what a “happy ending” will look like. But we’ve decided to tackle our individual challenges together and invite you, our readers, along for the ride. We believe “there is strength in numbers,” “some of us are smarter than all of us,” and “there is no I in team” (oops—that last one slipped in). We believe there are probably others out there who can relate to our thinking, who are attempting to solve problems of their own, and who might offer up a new perspective that provides insight into our own issues.
That being said, we’re looking forward to learning about ourselves as we continue to challenge each other—and to hear your thoughts and advice along the way—even if it’s all “easier said than done.”