My three kids have all been born with a *lot* of hair. “Wow! Look at all that hair!” was a comment we heard nonstop. One had more than the next. My youngest was born on October first and we dressed them up as Elvis for Halloween, just to give you some context. (I even used a little gel to style the ‘do, which may or may not have been a solid parenting decision, I’m not sure…)

My firstborn had a ponytail at six months. We cut bangs before a year because there was just so much hair we didn’t know what to do with it all. My second-born had curls down to their behind before we gave it a good chop, and our youngest is three and inching closer to curls-down-to-their-behind status every day. (And also doesn’t like when I tie it up, instead preferring for it to hang in front of their facebecause navigating the world at constant 3-year-old-lightning speed isn’t challenging enough, right? A layer of hair over the eyes provides for some extra fun.)

Hair has always been something we’ve had to figure out. How to get the (MANY) tangles out, how to care for curls, how to style bangs or short cuts. How to do an “Elsa braid” or space buns or how to “stick the front up a little like Dads”.

It’s been a way, I’ve learned over the years, that my children can express themselves. A way they can tell the world who they are, what their style is, and how they are able to differ stylistically from their siblings. In their world, where they can control so little, my husband and I decided we’d let our kids wear their hair how they want to. Not how we want them to or how society says they should.

To be quite honest, it’s one easy way we’re able to give them autonomy and encourage individuality, two things that are very important to us.

I don’t want my kids to become too attached to their hair or their appearance in general. I don’t want them to think that their worth is tied to what they look like or don’t look like. I want them to feel free to experiment with their hair or their clothes or their accessories. I want them to fully understand that their body is their body and that they areand always will bethe person in charge of it.

But with all that being said, I can’t say that I didn’t feel feelings when I saw my oldest cut their hair into a long bob or when my middle kiddo chopped the curls into a short buzzed style or when my baby got their first trim on those spiral down-to-their-behind curls.

I don’t know, there’s just something about haircuts.

They always look so much older after every cut.

Like, somehow, they went into the salon my baby and emerged as my full-grown child.

Somehow, they went in looking like they needed to hold my hand but emerged looking like they now need to borrow the car.

Somehow, they grew up a little bit. With just a few snips.

That is what it is—that’s what makes it so emotional. Not just haircuts, though. All of it. The growing up part. The becoming more and more of their own person, independent of me part.

The not being my baby anymore part.

I want my kids to grow and develop and flourish, of course. I don’t want them to stay glued to my side for the rest of our lives. But that doesn’t make it any less emotional over the years when they learn to do something by themselves or when they reach another big milestone.

It’s just the way parenting goes, I guess. Our hearts are cracked open the day we become parents and then feelings just shoot out of it nonstop for the rest of time.

A haircut could make me cry one day, and a lost tooth the next. Growing out of their current sized clothing could rattle me, then seeing their ears pierced could really do me in.

Because they’re always becoming more them. And it’s such a beautiful process to witness.