"The dog didn't want to meet my eyes, but I could tell he was curious," my 12-year-old tells me as we sit serenely in the dark end-of-summer-night on the porch admiring the moon.
"How could you tell?" I ask as I am mesmerized by the details in her story of meeting a dog on the beach that day. She leans back on me on the chaise lounge, her hair damp from the shower, smelling of shampoo.
"Because he chased the yellow butterfly and the seagulls' shadows," she says, barely above a whisper as if she might disturb the half moon hanging above our heads illuminating the water below us.
It's these details of what my children notice and tell me that remind me to listen harder even when I am tired and tempted to tune them out. My artist and animal lover naturally notices a dog chasing shadows, things I totally miss.
Listen, I tell myself. Pay attention or you will miss these moments, I repeat silently in my head.
My older daughter, on the other hand, is developing a world view full of self-righteous teenage passion and angst. While her opinions are not always shared by everyone, I am so proud that she is thinking deeply about the world around her and developing her own opinions.
It's exciting to listen to her to fervently defend her views on controversial topics that I'm sure are not on the radar of many 15-year-olds. I love that she is developing into a strong young woman and is working on defining her sense of self.
Listen. I murmur under my breath.
After my 12-year-old told me the story about the dog, it hit me I had not seen the butterfly or the seagulls' shadows. In fact, I couldn't ever recall seeing a butterfly on the beach.
And then on Sunday as I paddle boarded in the Intercoastal Waterway, I looked up, and there it was, a yellow butterfly. Later that day as I sat on the beach watching my younger daughter surf, again, a yellow butterfly fluttered by.
Pay attention ...
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.