Tech & Media
When I Couldn’t Make Mom Friends In Real Life, I Went On ‘Tinder For Moms’
PHOTO © Lesia.Valentain/Twenty20
Aug 30, 2019
When I imagined the first year of being a new mom, I pictured joining a new group of friends. There would be all these other new moms I'd meet at the library song circle, at the playground or at a Stars and Strollers movie screening. We'd make coffee dates, push our strollers filled with sleeping babies alongside each other, text parenting updates to each other in solidarity.
In reality, making mom (dad/parent/caregiver) friends was not as automatic or as easy as I had thought. In fact, it was really hard. And I was lonely.
I had a few nice conversations, but ... between two strangers, both of you being parents is rarely enough in common to truly feel a connection.
At the first library baby circle I attended, I got there a few minutes early. I readied myself and my baby on the mat, joining the circle of parents that was forming. Just as the librarian began, a parent came and sat in front of me, ignoring my presence and excluding me from the circle. I felt deflated and discovered a lot of other drop-in events felt similar: like somehow everyone else had found a way into a fabulous new-mom world that I wasn’t privy to.
Undeterred, I kept going back to the library, resolved to smile, introduce myself and my baby and break into the inner baby-hour circle. I had a few nice conversations, but learned quickly that, between two strangers, both of you being parents is rarely enough in common to truly feel a connection.
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Where were my people? After almost a year of countless brief conversations (before either running out of things to talk about or someone having to exit for nap time or crawling-baby chasing), I was still without the coffee/play dates and companionship for stroller walks I’d hoped for. I was about to give up hope — until I learned about Peanut.
Peanut can be best described as Tinder for moms. It’s an app designed to help you meet, talk to and hopefully hang out with other moms in your area. Making new friends wasn’t happening organically, so I decided to give technology a try.
Similar to the dating app experience, all of this can feel shallow and judgemental.
Creating a profile felt just like my days of using dating apps — debating which pictures to use, how to answer the multiple choice questions, what to write in the short bio and then wondering if those things combined came close to who I am or what I hope will resonate with someone else. I signed up, answered the questions and readied myself to “wave” (Peanut’s version of making a match) at other mamas.
Similar to the dating app experience, all of this can feel shallow and judgemental. But these are digital times we are living in and I was determined! So I immediately got swiping and into chatting with moms nearby.
But just as in the in-person world, conversations fizzled fast. Then a week in, I connected with a mom who lived down the street from me, frequented the same park and had a little one close to the same age as mine — AND we had fun friend-banter going already. Win!
We made a plan to meet. But on the day, as I pushed my daughter in circles near the meeting point, I got a message saying she'd be late due to a nap time delay. Then later, that she would have to rain check completely. No worries! We all know that struggle.
However, after two more failed attempts to meet, it felt like our moment had passed. Neither of us messaged each other again. I was ready to delete the app. I’d tried.
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But then, one more "wave." A queer mom like me, someone new-ish to the city like me and with kids whose schedules were compatible with my kid’s! Our first attempt to hang out was blessed with the good luck of no tantrums, on-time naps and sunny skies. So far, so good.
The awkwardness of trying to make friends [on the app] felt as likely or unlikely as meeting people IRL ....
Walking to meet her I felt nervous and realized how much hope I’d been holding onto all year, and how much effort I’d put into wanting to connect with other parents in this new adventure I was on. We met at a playground and discussed our work, the city we live in and the West Coast we missed, while we followed our kids from the sandbox to the swings. We talked this way for an hour and I loved getting to have an adult conversation with someone who was also a parent, but not only about being a parent.
We said goodbye, planning to hang again soon, and I went home feeling glad that I’d finally been able to have a lovely interaction.
I stopped using the app after that. The awkwardness of trying to make friends there felt as likely or unlikely as meeting people IRL, but even for the failed attempts and fizzled connections, it was worth signing up. I may have one new friend out of it, and I definitely had one lovely afternoon.
These days, the small or even fleeting moments of connection in a day full of toddler busyness aren’t like what I’d imagined. But it turns out, they’re just as good.
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