When Flatbush author Julie Stamm had her son, she let him know early on she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a personal battle that would sometimes interfere with their activities.
Her son Jack was too young to understand what the chronic illness was and what it meant to have MS, so Julie wrote a children’s book Some Days We…, which tackles the issue of parenting with chronic illness and explores positive moments of living will the illness.
“As he got older, I started looking for materials to teach him about MS and hopefully let him understand what it all means, because he doesn’t know about any other moms who are like this,” Stamm said.
“He doesn’t really see my challenges as challenges, but I wanted him to know that they are little obstacles and we can make it fun.”
Inspired by actual moments lived by Stamm, the picture book, illustrated by Sean J. Laven, features Wyatt and his mom Anne exploring debilitating moments through positivity and love. The book, which Stamm said was a labor of love, was aided by Stamm’s habit of documenting each day spent with her four-year-old son Jack.
“I have such a poor memory, so I write my son letters about every little thing he does,” Stamm said. “Each page in the book is based on a day that we’ve lived. To me, those days are my worst days, but when I asked my son how he feels, he talks about how much fun he had.”
Stamm said Jack was able to understand everything that was so hard for her to accept, like days when her legs wouldn’t work, “We just switched around the apartment with me being his train that day—which he wants to do even when my legs are working.”
“I just stopped letting my own self-inflicted hardships get in the way and started looking through his eyes and it made me more confident,” she said.
Books have always been one of the best ways to explain difficult situations for children. Stamm hoped this book would help normalize disability and provide an empowering tone around the discussion of chronic illness.
“I think everyone has something that they have to overcome, no matter what it is,” Stamm said. “It’s up to us to teach our children that they’re adjustable and resilient. The message of the book is just that, that you’re going to adjust and be okay.”
Jack, who’s read the book hundreds of times, continues to serve as an inspiration to Stamm, who only hopes that people become kinder to each other moving forward. With the pandemic slowing things down and readjusting normal life, the Brooklyn-based author has found writing to be cathartic and healing.
“I’ve felt that since the book release a huge weight has been lifted because people are reading about things that I haven’t been forthcoming with, and I didn’t want this to be one thing people associate me with,” Stamm said.
“Even though the book is about having a chronic illness, I’m happy that it’s able to translate to other things.”
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