I laughed, at first, when I saw the email. “Peanut, the Tinder-like app that helps women meet as moms, connect as women” was about to debut, the email read, “bringing mom dates to Dallas.”
I couldn’t help but be skeptical: I missed the dating-app age by several years and though I’m technically a Millennial by the Pew’s definition, I’m an Old Millennial. Big diff. I still hold onto prejudices when it comes to online relationships, especially ones that aren’t going to end in booty calls (now that, I can wrap my head around).
But I also couldn’t help but be intrigued, so I agreed to meet with founder Michelle Kennedy while she was in town last week to give Dallas moms an official Peanut “hello” with an event hosted by Marisa Howard, Kameron Westcott, and Tina Craig (of Bag Snob fame).
Kennedy’s app launched 10 weeks ago in New York and London. While the obvious move for most tech companies might be to host their next launch party in Los Angeles or San Francisco, Kennedy and her team found there were already thousands of mama users popping up in Dallas—Highland Park representing the highest numbers—with Frisco, McKinney, Plano, and Fort Worth also showing high activity.
The Peanut concept: moms download and log on, creating a profile complete with pics, a bio, kid info (in my case: boy, 3 years), and three “packs”– which are basically pre-made descriptors such as “Fashion Killa” (definitely not me), “Spiritual Gangsta” (nah), “Dance Machine” (do living-room throwdowns count?), “Powered by Caffeine” (now we’re talking), and “Hot Mess” (nail on the head). There are also packs for single moms and special needs, and ones for multiples and adoptive families in the works.
To connect with a mom, you swipe up to “wave,” while swiping down puts the mom at the back of the queue (it’s not a rejection, Kennedy says, just a “maybe later”). You can start group chats, plus there’s a handy scheduling tool that allows everyone to vote on proposed meet-up times so as to avoid the endless back-and-forth in the comments.
My notions about Peanut began to change when Kennedy walked in the D Mag offices. She’s British and beautiful (floppy bangs, waist-length hair, freckles, and Twiggie eyelashes) and her style was so fire (high-waisted jeans, peter-pan collar blouse, and a leather jacket slung over one shoulder) that D Mag managing editor Christiana Nielson made several awkward spins around the common area, trying to get a closer look as we spoke. I imagine only Clooney and Amal’s progeny will be able to rival Kennedy’s level of effortless charm.
All of this to say, Kennedy’s a cool mom. All moms like cool moms. It gives us hope. And as I found out, cool moms have feelings just like us regular frizzy-haired, stained-T-shirt moms. Who knew? We sat on the couch to thumb through the app, and, as updates from her nanny rang in, Kennedy told me how alone she felt after having her son three years ago, stuck inside with a newborn during a dreary London winter. There were mommy forums, she noted, “but they all felt a bit aged.” She knew there had to be a better way for moms to connect. A year ago, she left her job as an executive at the dating app Bumble to bring Peanut to life.
Sitting down with Kennedy made me think about my own time spent as a stay-at-home parent. My husband was out of the house 70-plus hours a week with work and grad school. Those couple years with my son were precious, for sure, but the days could be tedious and the loneliness sometimes—ok, often—felt heavy. And meeting new parents is awkward. I’ve probably had a hundred conversations with random moms in my 3-plus years hanging out at playgrounds, but I still haven’t figured out how to appropriately segue from discussing local preschools to “Have you heard the new Kendrick Lamar?” Seriously, how do all those day-drinking Kathy Lee and Hoda fanatics find each other? No mom ever asked for my number. This inability to connect with other moms beyond polite child chatter perpetuates the hardest part of being a mom: losing your identity—the interesting, multi-dimensional, book-reading, concert-going, restaurant-dining, solo-bathroom-going person you used to be Before Kid.
So, I take back my initial giggle. Any tools that allows women to get together, commune, and commiserate can’t be a bad thing, right? Go ahead. Log on, mamas. Wave away. Make friends. You might even come across this hot mess.