When I was 9 years old I overheard my mum and six of her friends discussing their daughters’ periods. I can’t remember the exact conversation but it was along the lines of, ‘yes Anna came home and cried when she first got her period so we had a special dinner to celebrate’ and ‘Jenny got hers at 10 which is such a young age to be dealing with the extra stuff that comes with getting your period’.
I was mortified. I couldn’t believe they were all sitting around discussing their daughters’ periods over wine and cheese. I’m not sure if it is something that all women do or just hippy mothers. I was the child of free spirited, open-minded parents who laid most things bare, including themselves any chance they got. And yet I wasn’t comfortable with that kind of information being shared about me. I’ve always been a confident, outspoken girl but I also like to be in control of the information that gets shared about me and my private life. I always have.
As a result of hearing their period conversation I decided I wouldn’t tell my mum when I finally got mine. That’s why on the day it arrived I sat in the car outside school with my dad and cried as I told him, ‘I can’t go to school because I have my period’. His first response was, ‘have you told your mum?’ Even though they had separated he convinced me I needed to tell her because it was something she was far better informed about. I agreed but on the condition that he be the one to tell her, that way if she wanted to re-tell the story to her friends it would involve including her ex-husband in the tale and I insisted there wasn’t to be a celebratory dinner.
Why am I telling you this? Recently there has been a fair bit of chat about ‘sharenting’, It dawned on me the other day that if the internet had been invented when my mum was young, she probably would have been the Queen of the sharenting. She is an intelligent feminist and an exhibitionist, the perfect recipe for an internet sensation.
I was looking at a picture Constance Hall put up of her and her kids in the bath and remembered that we had one that was almost identical on our photo board at home when I was growing up. Mum in the bath with my brother and I. Mum and dad proudly displayed the photo on a giant corkboard in the kitchen with all of the other family shots. I was very conscious of it when I had friends over especially when I hit puberty, if I knew I had guy mates coming round I would take it down and hide it to spare myself the immature giggles.
I wondered how I would feel if that photo board had been big enough for the world to see? I wondered how affected I would have been if I’d overheard my mum talking to a million of her online friends about my period or my parent’s separation? Maybe I wouldn’t care because everyone else’s parents would be doing the same. All of our photo boards would be on display, all of our private lives would be open to discussion. Maybe having it all laid bare creates an open community but I also can’t help but wonder whether the children of this generation will rebel against their sharenting parents and close down completely? Will they be the ones trying to hide the photos on the internet when their friends come round to play?
I’m not a parent so I’ve never had to wrestle with the decision of posting shots of my kids. I’m a very proud aunty and godmother who lives far away from the little people in my life and I love the fact that the internet allows me to keep up to date with what they’re doing. This post is not meant to be a judgement purely a reflection on my own experience. And lastly I must disclose I’m still not comfortable with public discussions about how I got my period, hence why I’ve posted this anonymously and mum has never forgiven me for blocking the celebratory dinner.
Note: This piece is not written by Brooke, our writer pal wanted to stay annon.