There was a moment at school drop-off this morning, when all the parents were gathered in the entrance before the doors opened, that I realized something. I am not a new parent anymore. Nope. I’ve got a seasoned third grader who has been at this school for three whole years and knows most of the people in the building.

I know or recognize most of the faces too. As I hugged and greeted the other moms, making small talk about how our summers went, I remembered being one of the new moms on the outside, looking in, wondering if I’d ever develop the kinds of friendships that these people seemed to have.

And here we are.

But enough about me. This post is about Mazzy. My beautiful bubbly girl, who was heading off to preschool just yesterday it seems.

Remember this kid?

As a refresher, she was the one who would wear nothing but dresses and pink. So much so that I started a whole Instagram account about it.

This little girl always wanted her hair as long as possible— Disney princess length. I liked it that way too. She’d sit still while I brushed, twisted and braided to my heart’s content.

Last year, as you know, Mazzy rebelled against pink. This year, she has expanded her hatred of pink to anything that looks even remotely girly. As adamant as she used to be about wearing only dresses, she is now that adamant about wearing anything but. She also rejects floral prints, cardigan sweaters and any closed-toe shoe that isn’t a boot or a sneaker.

The most excited I’ve seen her about an item of clothing lately was when she spotted a plaid flannel shirt in Target.

“Can I get that, Mom? It’s so cool.”

Yesterday, I took Mazzy and Harlow both to get haircuts. Harlow got the usual. For Mazzy, my intention was for her to get a trim. I asked them to cut off an inch and a half, but it ended up looking a lot shorter than I thought it would. The cut is cute and sporty and Mazzy loves it, but I miss her pretty flowing locks, long enough for braids, buns and Rey style ponytails.

At this length, I can’t make nearly as convincing arguments for her to pin it back away from her face.

I remember when I was younger, my mom would always tell me to pull my hair back so that she could see my face. I would get so mad at her. Now I totally get it. All I want to do is attack Mazzy’s hair with a brush and bobby pins from the second she gets out of bed. She gets mad at me too.

“I don’t have to look perfect,” she says as her hair hangs wild and messy.

I know. I just want to see her beautiful face.

This summer, Mazzy took a break from her multi-sport summer camp to attend a week-long ballet camp. She’s not interested in ballet but she wanted to do it to be with her friend. It was one week of rehearsals leading up to a Friday night production of Peter Pan.

The rules for dress all week were strict— leotards, tights, ballet slippers and hair tied neatly back in a bun.

I loved seeing her in that pastel leotard and bun. It reminded me of the little girl I put in ballet class as a toddler.

I miss that Mazzy.

It’s tricky as your kid gets older and starts to veer away from what you imagined. I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It’s wonderful to watch as your daughter figures out her own identity. But it’s a process of letting go too. Taking a step back and seeing who your daughter becomes. Trying to influence in the right ways and not the wrong ones. Also, I know I’ve talked about clothing and hair a lot in this post, but I’m not just talking about looks. Those are just the areas where most kids first assert and express themselves.

When it was time for the Friday production of Peter Pan, Mazzy dressed up in her pixie fairy costume— a green sequined number with spaghetti straps and tulle. I hadn’t seen Mazzy in a tutu in years and took a zillion pictures.

At the performance, I ooohed and aaahed over my gorgeous girl— so confident and clearly loving being in the spotlight, up on stage.

But when it was over, I reminded myself that I don’t have a ballerina or a fairy princess anymore. I need to take out my camera when she’s being herself and not just when she’s put together like I want her to be.

We haven’t figured out the colors on our butterfly quite yet. Mazzy will let us know as she grows.

And I will love whoever that is with all my heart.