Guest Columnist Vivian Kirkfield: The Grandmother You Hardly Knew


Vivian Kirkfield is a mom of three (Jason, Peter and Caroline) and an educator and author who lives in the Colorado Rockies. She’s passionate about picture books, enjoys hiking and fly-fishing with her husband, and loves reading, crafting and cooking with kids during school and library programs. She’ll be flying to Singapore soon to speak at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content to share her ideas about using picture books as effective parenting tools to build self-esteem and strengthen the parent-child connection. To learn more about her mission to help every child become a reader and a lover of books, please visit her Positive Parental Participation website or contact her at 

Dear Jason, Peter and Caroline, 

You might not remember too much about my mother because she died while you were all still young. I think it’s important for you to hear about what made her such a special person.

When I was growing up, if you said you were an SAHM, no one would have known what you meant. Most moms WERE stay-at-home-moms, and my mother was one of the best. She had been a nursery school teacher and she loved doing arts and crafts with me and my sister. She also loved reading to us. That’s where my love for picture books started, with me sitting on her lap, listening to books like The Little House and The Little Red Caboose and Madeline.

If you wondered why I was always happy to help you with homework during your school days, you can thank your grandmother. In my own school days, I would sit on the floor, notebook and pencil in hand, mulling over an assignment.

“What do you have to write about?” she would ask. No matter what the topic, Mom was ready to help.

Nibbling on the eraser I’d say, “But how should I begin?” The beginning was always the hardest for me.

To get me going, she spoke faster than I could write and I often had trouble reading my handwriting when I went to copy it over. No, she didn’t write it for me, but she gave me the spark of an idea. More importantly, she gave me confidence in myself. I knew that if my mom was there, I would do a good job.

My mother and I got along well for the most part, but we did have a couple of rocky times. Even though it may be hard to believe, I was once a teenager! She was strict about curfews. She worried that I would get too serious with my boyfriend. She was afraid I wouldn’t finish college. I know now that she was just being a mom.

She was a practical person as well as a philosophical one. Her favorite poem wasthe Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

She also wrote poetry. Do you remember how every birthday card from her came with a personal verse she had written? Perhaps that’s where I get my desire to write rhyming picture books.

One of the most important lessons I learned from her was to be a hands-on mom when kids are young, but to be a hands-off mom when they become adults. Let me share what happened once.

It was a hot steamy day in early August and we were at a county fair. Jason, you were only six weeks old, dressed in a little sleeveless outfit, well-shaded and resting comfortably against me in the baby carrier. Your grandmother didn’t say a word at the time, but years later she told me that she had wanted to “advise” me to put a blanket on you, but had decided to “hold her tongue.” I hope I never forget that as I watch each of you raising your beautiful children.

With so much love,




8 thoughts on “Guest Columnist Vivian Kirkfield: The Grandmother You Hardly Knew

  1. What a beautiful letter to your kids, and a touching ode to your mother. Makes me want to write one for my kids. I fear they only remember their “Grammy,” ill, when she was once such a vibrant woman. Thanks for the inspiration Vivian! Lovely post!

    1. Thanks, Milka! Bob does have a wonderful idea here…we can share so much with our children through letters. That would be a great idea to write a letter telling your kids about your mom as you knew her. 🙂 I’ll be doing one about my father for Father’s Day…will post the link once it is published. 🙂

    2. Oh, I’m sorry, Dawn…I misread the blog name and thought it was Milka’s Perfecting Motherhood…thanks so much for stopping by Bob’s blog to read and comment. 🙂 🙂

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