I was lucky enough to have two neighbours who became fast friends. Their children were about the same age as my own and they had similar values and styles of parenting. Without them, I would have been a far more stressed (and far less skilled) mom.
I should mention that I hold their husbands in high regard, but female friendship, especially when it's forged in child rearing, really stands the test of time. As did the children's friendships.
This photo is my daughter with one of those childhood friends. I love that years after they were drawing on the sidewalks themselves, they're still walking side by side, sharing secrets.
I could wax for a whole blog post about the beauty of these children and their eternal friendship, but today I'm extolling the one that mothers share, especially when they hold another's newborn and feel not just warmth and love, but the tribal 'this one is my own' feeling.
I had that for these other women's children and have always trusted them with my own, knowing that they would not only care for my children for an afternoon, but guide them and even provide them that little bit of mentorship and fresh perspective that would enrich my children's experience beyond what I could provide.
This very special feeling between mothers was something I wanted to capture when I wrote my baby swap books. Sorcha and Octavia have shared an experience of being handed the wrong baby. They held that stranger's baby and felt the well of protectiveness. It leaves them with an indelible need to be part of that child's life forever, to be a standby guardian of sorts.
Here's a snippet from The Marriage He Must Keep showing their connection:
Octavia had apologized to Sorcha when they had a moment alone, saying, “I’m so sorry this awful situation happened, Sorcha. I feel terrible—”
“Oh, I don’t hold you responsible!” Sorcha reassured her, but admitted on a quivering whisper, “But Cesar didn’t know about Enrique. At all.” The stress of dealing with his discovery was visible in her pinched nostrils and white cheeks.
Octavia didn’t judge. She was far too preoccupied with her own problems and the sordid reason her husband had married her. Part of her wanted to spill it all to her new friend, but it was so personal, so lowering.
Before she left, Sorcha made a point of exchanging contact details so they could stay in touch. “I’ll be going to Spain,” Sorcha had said, a conflicted expression torturing her beautiful face. “I don’t expect it’ll be a warm welcome from his family. I’d appreciate having a friend, even if you’re in London.”
“I’ve been in London for medical care. I live in Naples,” Octavia had said, not bringing up her reservations about going back there. Alessandro hadn’t said another word about their plans, but she hadn’t stopped thinking about how ruthless and arrogant he’d been the other night. It hurt. She felt as if she was back in her childhood, expected to do as she was told. And why not? She virtually always had.
“I’d like a friend, too,” Octavia said with a touch more vehemence than she meant to reveal. “I’m very attached to Enrique,” she added, reaching out to stroke Sorcha’s son’s tiny closed fist. “I’ll need regular updates. I’m going to miss him. He was almost mine.” It was true. She felt a strange connection to the boy.
“I feel the same,” Sorcha said, eyes shining with emotion. “I’ll feel so cheated, not seeing Lorenzo every day.” They hugged it out and Sorcha was gone when Alessandro settled Octavia in the back of his town car.
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Dani Collins is the USA Today Bestselling author of two dozen sexy, witty, vibrant titles for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Tule's Montana Born, and herself.
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