So many times, my first impulse is to say “no” when the girls ask to do something that will take my time, my effort, and my superior cleaning-up skills. However, as guardian of my children’s passions, I should be learning to say “yes” more often — whatever the cost!

A couple days ago, I bemoaned the girls’ enthusiasm with scissors. The older two have moved past cutting their own (and each other’s) hair and instead devour magazines, cutting around pictures carefully and then gluing them into bright collages. Two-year-old Calista is still mastering her use of the scissors and she spends her time cutting a plain A4 sheet of paper into as many small pieces as possible.

Paper cuttings on floor, October 2010
Chasing the paper trail has led me to an attitude check.

In the past, I have implored the girls to put their scraps in the bin. I have sought to moderate the cutting to just-one-sheet or to limit the time and scope of the projects they’ve been creating. And why? Simply because I was focusing on myself instead of on them.

Selfishly, I have been thinking that their entertainment, their education, their experience with the scissors must take a back seat to my own desire for order, tidiness, cleanliness and (frankly) more leisure time.

I have limited my children’s options because I wanted to expand my own. I wanted to be free to pursue my own pleasures, which means less time spent in housekeeping duties and more time to read and write.

So I deny my children their simple pleasures with the scissors because I calculate the cost of that activity and decide that I don’t want to pay for it. I don’t want to pay the extra five minutes that it takes me to clean up their paper scraps instead of just picking up their clothes or other toys that are the detritus of a day well-played.

Five minutes? It’s not so much. But when I am first approached with the request, the price seems much, much higher.

Ah, now I see it so clearly: I must sacrifice myself for my children’s future. It seems so hard to do — to die to my own desires, to forgo my own pleasures for someone else’s — even when it is my own precious children’s.

But this is the beauty of self-sacrifice: when I give up my own desires to meet someone else’s needs, that person’s desires become my own, and we are both satisfied in the new arrangement — called love.

I’m sure I’ve read something like that before, and I’m motivated and exhilarated by this new revelation from the Father. As I grow and change from what I was into the full embodiment of Love, my children will be the first to benefit — and together we will find our deepest desires fulfilled.