Well, we are less than 1 week away from our wedding! How exciting/stressful/scary/romantic/exhausting/ memorable/crazy...you get the point...In the midst of all this wedding planning, honeymoon planning, childcare planning, new job planning, financial planning, pet-sitter planning, trip planning real life continues to go on. And, as many people who know me know, real life for our little family is crazy enough without any added stressors!!
One of the bigger stressors in our family is parenting a pre-teen. I know teens in general are strange creatures, warranting much research, observation and prescription medications for their caretakers. Seeing them on tv, advising clients and friends how they "should" raise their very own version of this specimen, etc. is all well and good. But when one of these creatures dwells in your home, it's a whole different beast!!!
Add to that the dimension that I am the step-parent and the plot thickens...
Add to that the fact that neither one of the parents of this strange hormonal phenomenon had models of good parenting and chaos ensues.
Add to that the tragic truth that both parents suck at communicating with one another and you have.....this morning!!!
Basically, what I need to learn from co-parenting is that I need to keep my mouth shut. No matter how much time passes, no matter how many parenting roles I take on, no matter what lip service is given to my role as the co-parent, the fact remains that I am second fiddle. I am second fiddle to the teen - who I think would much prefer that it just be her and her mom (or her and a pack of wolves maybe). That's understandable. Everyone I have spoke to who survived this teenage years insanity says that your teen hates you from age 12 to age 20. So, we're off to a good, developmentally appropriate start!
However, I am occasionally reminded (in case I forget, which I did this morning) that I am also second fiddle parent to the other parent. I cannot express frustration with parenting - it is met with silence or annomosity. I cannot express disappointment, stress, concern over poor behavior/choices. Basically, anything negative is best kept private inside my own head. All I can express safely is love and glee and happiness. And, sadly, those moments are few and far between with a teenager.
So, I'm stuck. I'm being told by my partner, my therapist, my partner's therapist that I suck at communication - that I need to communicate more, that I need to share my wants/needs/thoughts openly and honestly, etc. However, what communication often times teaches me is that it is best left unsaid. So, I have a lot of trouble finding that balance! I hate conflict. So, communication to me oftentimes equals inevitable conflict.
Perfect example: This morning. My partner's going to get a haircut! I'm going to teen-sit, which I had already planned on doing. I made the mistake of saying that I was not looking forward to spending 2 hours with the teen because I was so frustrated with her. BIG MISTAKE. Should have kept that one to myself (even though her mother's next sentence was "Well, I'm not excited about having to spend 8 hours with her this evening."). The result: A brief altercation, followed by the silent treatment and leaving the house without even saying goodbye. Nice.
(On another note - I HATE the silent treatment. I hate when I'm ignored. I hate when someone leaves me in anger without saying goodbye or I love you. My first desire was to call her cell and say, "Love you. Hope I don't die of a heart attack while you're gone." But I refrained! But I still hate it. I think it's unfair to do that to someone when you know they hate being treated like that!)