Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

I wanted to say thank you. I really did.

Not just because my mom had taught me my manners well, but because I was truly grateful. Not rude or snotty like my teachers called me as early as preschool.

Sometimes I would manage to squeak it out in a whisper. But it was always too late, or they never heard.

Fast-forward almost 30 years and I learned there’s a name for this suffocating silence when I Googled “Why does my toddler shut down in social situations?”

Selective Mutism. It’s such an ugly term given to such sweet kids. But at least it gives them a voice.

The SMart (Selective Mutism, Anxiety, and Related Disorders Treatment) Center defines Selective Mutism as a “childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings.”

Key words: select social settings. My son knows his pleases and thank yous and uses them generously at home with mommy and daddy. Especially when he wants fruit snacks for breakfast or an extra story at bedtime.

My son, like most children with Selective Mutism, is loud and outgoing at home and in places he feels comfortable. In fact, his speech has been remarkably advanced since infancy. 

But I came home in tears from his friend’s birthday party today. Another little boy had given him an extra glow stick from his party bag because my son had lost his own.

“Say ‘thank you’, honey,” I prompted.

Silence. Followed by shadows of judgement passing over the faces of other parents within earshot. That same look I used to see on the faces of my teachers, babysitters, and even family members. 

I was used to it. I rubbed my son’s fuzzy little head, thanked the little boy myself, and assured his father we were “working on it”.

But what, exactly, is it?

This question is what led to the Googling, the “aha!” moment after reading about Selective Mutism, and the tears.

Selective Mutism is genetic. My son is going through the same fear and pain that I experienced as a child, and it breaks my heart. Kids eventually grow out of it. But it’s incredibly painful while they’re going through it. Not just emotionally painful. Selective Mutism stems from anxiety that can cause stomach aches, headaches, and chest pain, just to name a few. 

So please, parents, teachers, caregivers: the next time a child seemingly refuses to say please and thank you, or follow any societal norms of etiquette for that matter, think of me. Think of my son. We are not trying to be rude. And although you may be trying to help, pushing a child with Selective Mutism to speak is actually harmful. Please trust that I’m doing everything I can to help my child. And please, just let it go.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jessica Mautone

Jessica is a first-time, Stay-At-Home mom who loves to write as an outlet for the stress that comes along with raising a strong-minded little boy and two yappy dogs. Credit for her creative inspiration goes to good wine and frequent travel. 

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading