living a well tended life... at any age

yes, i have a third kid.

And he said it’s okay to tell you about him.

If you’ve been here for some time you may very well have thought that I only had two children. I do a lot with Noah and Chelsea and share much of it here. So I’ll get, on occasion, something like, “Oh? You have another son?”  If any of you live with – or HAVE lived with – a 15-year old-boy, I’m sure that this doesn’t surprise you.

Teenage boys are the polar opposites of their female counterparts.  See, life with a teenage girl is experienced in REAL TIME. Seriously. There isn’t a bad hair day, cruel taunt, or failed outfit that you don’t hear about loud and clear – as it’s happening, and typically accompanied by shrieks and tears. I seriously doubt that there was a moment during Chelsea’s adolescence that I wasn’t on intimate terms with. And I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it. Yes, it was often exhausting, but I was grateful that she chose to share it all with me. It gave me the opportunity to comfort her (as best as I could), and to forge a close bond that still exists today. I never had to wonder if she was having a good day or a bad day, as I was getting a minute-by-minute account.

But the boys? To say they “fly under the radar” is an understatement. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but one day Conor was just GONE. Not physically – laundry, meals and requests for allowance were proof that he still lived with us. But he now passed on most family outings. On the weekends he would sleep till mid-afternoon, only to slip out upon awakening to be with his friends.  The door to his room entered  a state of permanent SHUT. And conversations dwindled to almost nothing.  He was still sweet and respectful, kept his room neat and orderly and did his schoolwork and chores (usually) without fuss.

He was just GONE.

So I understood why people I had just recently met thought I only had a daughter in college and a toddler. And for the most part I found this pretty amusing.

Till recently.

I was having coffee with a new friend when I got the usual – “Oh? You have another son?”

But it was followed by – “Does he live with you?”

And that struck a nerve. Around this same time my mom asked me if I thought that Conor was upset that I rarely mentioned him in my blog. To which I replied, “Well he’d have to READ my blog to know that.” And I was only half-joking.

But I couldn’t shake the thought that I should maybe address this with Conor. So I asked him if it bothered him that I didn’t write about him. And he told me that it didn’t bother him at all. Which I kind of expected. What I DIDN’T expect was what followed:

“But it would be okay with me if you wanted to. Oh, and make it with a recipe”.  Or something like that.

So now I had permission. And after some conversation, the appropriate recipe too. So all I had to do was write about my Conor.

Right. Write.

I’ve had his “permission” to write this post for months now. And while it would seem like a piece of cake, you know – no biggie – to write about my eldest son, I couldn’t do it. I’d sit down, ready to go, and think of any other post that I could share, that NEEDED to be shared first.

But now it’s time. And I’m already choked up.

My Conor has been that child, from the day he was born, who chokes me up.  Is there a person who reaches you in a deep, deep place that no one else can? It can be a spouse, a friend, or a parent, but it’s a feeling that evokes the most raw, intense emotions. A combination of fierce strength along with immense vulnerablity. That’s my Conor.

Conor was a stunning toddler. He had the kind of looks that stopped people in  stores, restaurants and just walking down the street.  And whenever I got the typical, “Oh my god – those eyes/lashes/looks” – I would smile and say – “And he’s just as beautiful on the inside.” And I wasn’t just being polite.

Conor – from a very young age – revealed a mind, a spirit and a personality that was – and still is – the most creative, inventive and brilliantly talented that I’ve ever met. He is a gifted artist, an amazing writer and possesses a sweet and moral core that makes me STILL want to wrap him up in gauze and keep him safe from the rest of the world.

Which was pretty easy to do for the first few years. But as he got older I realized that the rest of the world – teachers, peers, camp counselors – would continually try to impose their expectations – their definition of “right” on Conor. And I would have to step up and explain – over and over again – that his uniqueness – his “out of the box” perspective was to be celebrated, not discouraged. I was often asked if I had ever considered an alternative, more “artsy” school for him. But I have always felt strongly that as long as Conor was thriving in public school, then that’s where he should be. Learning how to navigate the “real world” would hold him in good stead when, as an adult, he’d have to present his fabulous ideas to a room full of conventional thinkers. What good would I be doing to put him in a bubble for 12 years?

Again, as long as he was thriving. Which he was, for the most part. We lucked out with some incredible teachers who totally “got” him, and we provided outlets for his creativity after school, on weekends and during the summer. He had a great group of friends – a mix of kids with interests ranging from sports to art to skateboarding, who (at the lunch table anyway) – came together and  wholly accepted one another. This was critical for Conor, who had no end of self-esteem but, like most of us, sought out and appreciated recognition from his peers.

Was it always easy? No. Middle school arrived, and instead of one teacher, all day, who could (if needed) be “worked with” over the year, we now had 8 teachers, for 43 minutes at a clip, who had no time or inclination to try and “get” my son. There were a few exceptions, to be sure, and it was no surprise that those were the classes where he performed at his best.

And watching the travails of being an adolescent boy makes me realize –without question – that it is, for the most part, way harder than being a teenage girl. Boys have to be tough, cool and confident. They need to be totally self-assured and broadcast this with great skill. They can NEVER cry, and there is no “talking things out” with friends during difficult times.

So what do I do as his mom? I walk that tightrope that we all do with our kids during these fraught years. I try to be accessible without prying, loving without being “awkward”, respectful of his privacy while knowing that there are questions and conversations that cannot be avoided. No matter how hard. Rather than have him take the train into the city for his Saturday art class, I drive him in. That magic “safe zone” of the car is where I can listen to his music, hear what he’s thinking about and ask him (a few) questions.

I try to give him his space, hug him whenever I feel like it (which is a lot) and tell myself, over and over, that he’ll be back. That he’s not really “gone” gone.

Oh, and I also try to make his favorite meals as often as possible. Like this one. It started as an appetizer but he loves it so much that one day he asked for it for dinner. Which is how it should be served – of course. He always has the best ideas. When he decides to share them.

prosciutto wrapped shriimp

prosciutto wrapped shriimp

I love my Conor so much. So much that it can never be properly shared or expressed. Even in 1500 words. This may be my longest post to date and if you’ve made it this far, I thank you. Are you the parent of a teenage boy too?

Does he have this effect on you?

Anyway, it had to be this long. I don’t know that I’ll get this chance again.

prosciutto wrapped shriimp

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Garlic Dipping Sauce
adapted from Gourmet

6 appetizer servings – as a main course count on 5-7 shrimps per person

18 thin slices imported prosciutto
18 fresh basil leaves
18 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. chopped garlic
1 c. olive oil

Place one prosciutto slice on your work surface, short end parallel to the edge. Place a basil leaf at one short end of the prosciutto slice. Place one shrimp atop the basil leaf. Roll the shrimp and basil in the prosciutto. Repeat with remaining prosciutto, basil and shrimp. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate.)

Preheat broiler. Combine vinegar, mustard and garlic in a blender or food processor. Gradually add oil; blend well. Transfer to a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil shrimp until opaque in center, turning every 2 minutes for a total of 6 minutes. Transfer to a  serving platter. Serve hot or at room temperature with sauce.

(print this recipe)


This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver
http://sherisilver.com/2012/02/15/yes-i-have-a-third-kid/

38 Comments

  1. Meri on February 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Sheri thank you so much for sharing 🙂 made me tear up, and then I went over and hugged jack:-) conor sounds amazing, he’s very lucky to have a mother like you.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you my friend. xo

  2. Melanie on February 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you so much for introducing me to Conor! He sounds like an amazing guy. This is such a beautiful post.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Thank YOU. He is amazing – the amazing-est. Which is why it was so hard to write about him, I so wanted it to be “just right”. Thanks so, so much.

  3. GreetingsfromTexas! on February 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Wow. I agree with Melanie – this post is beautiful and that’s not often a word I use to describe things. I was watching Parenthood last night and thinking about how difficult it must be to raise teenage boys. Conner is a lucky boy to have you as his momma! Don’t be afraid to tell him I said so! =)

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you so, so much! And I WILL tell him! 🙂 It’s really not so hard as it is often just so……..surreal. I look at pictures of him at Noah’s age and literally cannot fathom that he was that small – ever! But the “boy” still lurks within the young man – I just need to keep reminding myself of that. Thanks for your lovely words!

  4. Lisa Sperling on February 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Sheri, this is one of the most beautiful blog posts I have read in a very long time. I don’t have any children of my own, but yet I was able to resonate with you on so many levels. Conor sounds like such a wonderful guy – i can tell from the way you write (and from the other posts I’ve read about your children), what a great mom you must be!

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you so much! The fact that this resonated with you at this stage in your journey means the world to me. And Conor IS wonderful – but I’m just a “little” biased…. 🙂

  5. Jennifer on February 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t have a teenage boy yet, but I will soon. I can already see what different animals my son (9) and daughter(12) are and, how different my relationship with each is, and will be! Thanks for this beautiful post Sheri.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you so much Jennifer! Yes, I was a bit blindsided when it happened, but I’m getting there – slowly but surely! 🙂

  6. jodi on February 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Beautiful! I hope to meet him soon.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you Jodi – me too! 🙂

  7. Leslie on February 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Beautiful is totally the right word for this. And I so get the “gone” thing. Typical answers is a “conversation” with my 17-year-old might be, “Oh, you know,” “Don’t worry about it,” and “People.” This is a kid who used to give me a blow by blow of his whole day on the way home from school! And then there’s the 18-year-old who want plenty of space and to live not just out of the box but perhaps destroy the box. It’s hard to be a teenage boy–and to be the parent of one! Reading your post makes me feel less alone.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you Leslie. And yes – “don’t worry about it” – what’s up with the rampant use of that one?? I so appreciate what you wrote; I feel less alone for having shared it.

  8. Zoe Denahy on February 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Wow Sheri…..took my breath away. Hoping all will be good again. Conor is lucky to have you as a mom. I know that connection with a son runs really deep. With mine I always see myself for better or worse.

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you my friend – and who would know the “boy” thing better than you? xo

  9. Hotly Spiced on February 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    What a great post! Your Conor sounds wonderful. There was so much there that I could relate to. Just last night my Arabella was heading off to the gym when she stopped in the kitchen and poured her heart out to me for an hour. She missed her spin class. And then there’s my 19 year old Archie. He’s also ‘gone’. We never see him. He’s at College full-time plus he’s rehearsing 4 nights a week for a play that opens soon. He lives here, I’m quite sure of it, but we never see him. It’s a heart-breaking time for a mum. It’s so hard letting go especially when you have a boy like Conor who is clearly as beautiful on the inside as he is on the inside. I read your post right to the end – loved it! xx

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you so so so much for this – and not just the “reading to the end” part! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, and for all of your lovely support – I truly appreciate it.

  10. Christa aka the BabbyMama on February 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to the eldest son!

    And I love how it just ends on a recipe. Like love stuff love stuff. Boom. Shrimp!

    • sheri silver on February 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Christa! I struggled with the love-stuff-food transition; glad you liked it! 🙂

  11. Anjie on February 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Amazing entry! My son is only 10 months old and I already see him having this kind of effect on me. I’m glad you took the time to stop by today.

    • sheri silver on February 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Thank you! Love your blog and that little boy of yours is adorable! 🙂

  12. Jennifer Cullen on February 16, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Loved this post. It was so beautifully written. As the mother of an almost-15 year old, I can totally relate to the change in behavior and the gender difference. He sounds like a great kid. And I hope he makes some more appearances.
    And this is so true, “Accessible without prying, loving without being awkward.” It is a tightrope!

    • sheri silver on February 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Thank you so much – it’s so interesting to hear how similar the experience is for moms of boys – and so comforting too! 🙂

  13. Marcie Cuff on February 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Wow, Sheri. Breathtaking post. You are such a wonderful mom to recognize and celebrate those bits and pieces of him that are unique. Mostly we want the world to accept and appreciate them–to love and to praise them an to recognize all the good they have to give. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post. I will read it over and over.

    • sheri silver on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you Marcie – you know what a big big fan I am of your writing so this means the world to me! xo

  14. Leslie on February 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Sheri – what a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing your heart and the beautiful essence of your son.

    • sheri silver on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you Leslie – so, so much! xoxo

  15. Cindy Spencer on February 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Sheri, that was a killer!! Beautifully written, and so authentic. It really speaks to how special Conor and you are!

    • sheri silver on February 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you Cindy – can you believe our “July babies” are so big? How??? xoxo

  16. karen on February 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Oh my gosh I have a third child that is my youngest of three boys and you would think by now I would understand boys! Loved your post and I wish my 15 year old could meet your son Conor.

    • sheri silver on February 21, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Thank you so much for your note! It’s been quite a learning experience for me, tapping into a side of myself that I just didn’t need to with my daughter. I appreciate your taking the time to write this! 🙂

  17. Lisa on March 15, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Oh. My. God. Sheri. I’m sitting here balling. You’ve put into words what I’ve thought about with my oldest (16). I’m feeling it more with my middle guy, though, who is 12. I’m not ready for him to be a teen 🙂 Conor sounds a lot like his mama. xoxo

    • sherisilver on March 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Thank you so much Lisa – those boys of ours – KILLER! xoxo

  18. Monica D. on March 15, 2013 at 10:14 am

    This is the third time I’m reading this post and have a feeling it won’t be my last! I have it as a gently reminder of how to embrace the tough years ahead – for my boys and girl alike – and come out on the other side with healthy, sane, respectful, unique individuals!

    • sherisilver on March 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

      Thanks so much Monica – and I hope to impart some of the adventurous spirit that the 2 of you bring to your parenting as we raise Noah. It is truly an inspiration. xo

  19. Leslie on March 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Although I’ve “known” Conor all his life (lashes and all!), I can hardly pretend to know him (especially not ever having a boy of my own).
    I loved hearing about him, your relationship, and of course the recipe. I’m all warm and fuzzy now, (mostly…realistically!).

    • sherisilver on March 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Love you. xo

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