#parent | #kids | Two Best Friends Raised Their Daughters Like Sisters

I remember at the time, we didn’t have proper phones or anything, so we would chat on the [Nintendo] DS. There were three floors [in our houses]—my room was on the second floor, and Shannon was on the top. We’d message each other on the DS and be like, “Right, we’re going to talk through the wall,” so we’d meet in the hallway and talk through the wall if we couldn’t go outside.

Beck: Were they rowhouses that were touching each other, and that’s why you could talk through the wall?

Shannon: Yes.

Beck: Those must’ve been thin walls.

Alisha: Oh God. You could hear everything through them.

Beck: What are your memories of what family life was like, with your two households being so entangled?

Lisa (left) and Sandra (right) at a 1940s event at a local showground in Cleethorpes (Courtesy of Sandra Ritchie and Lisa Preston)

Alisha: My mom was married to my stepdad since I was 2 and a half; they’re divorced now. But he was at work a lot, so I just saw Lisa as a second mom, really. Even though I could always go to my mom, it was also nice to know that if there was something I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable talking to my mom about, I could go to my second mom.

If me and my mom ever would have an argument, I’d always go to Lisa because she was next door, and she would talk me through it like, “Look, come on. You’re being a little bit ridiculous here.” She was always a peacemaker. If I ever had a fight with Shannon, I’d also go to her mom as well, which I know might seem a bit bizarre.

Shannon: When I was 16, and I was having a bit of a rough time at school, but I didn’t think I could tell my mom, I spent some time around Alisha’s house. When we were sitting around, Sandra was like, “Are you okay?” And I was able to say, “No, not really. I’m having some issues.” I was able to speak about how I was not feeling comfortable with my friends. It was just a lot easier to say it to her.

Lisa: I don’t have any sisters, so Shannon doesn’t have any aunties, but she does have Sandra, who substitutes not only as a mother figure, but as an auntie figure. If Shannon said, “Please can you keep this secret from my mom?” I know that Sandra would take into account whether it was suitable for her to keep to herself, if it was one of those silly girl’s secrets, or something more serious that I would need to know.

Beck: Are there any downsides to being best friends with your mom’s best friend’s kid?

Shannon: The open communication is a double-edged sword. It’s a lot easier, but it’s also like, if you wanted something to be a surprise, it’s not going to stay a surprise. It’s that thing where you tell your friend something, and then they tell their mom, and then their mom tells her friend, and then it goes back to your mom.

Alisha: I would definitely agree with that. Obviously, there were some things that we both were like, “Definitely do not tell the parents this.” But we’re very open with our moms, and our moms are very open with each other.

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