The Juice Box Mom

Candance Gordon - Argyle, Texas
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, April 6, 2012
Candance Gordon
Photo by Mike Robison Photography

Candance Gordon decided she didn’t want to compete with the Alpha Moms who seemingly accomplish every parenting obligation to perfection. Gordon believes she can contribute to her children’s lives in ways that aren’t as glamorous but just as important.

Whenever my kids have a party at school, I am the mom who always signs up to bring the juice boxes. It’s not because I’m lazy or that I don’t care if my kids have a good party. I am just not wired in such a way that I can fashion sandwiches, made on my very own homemade, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free bread, into holiday-themed shapes. Nor can I make centerpieces that are totally precious using nothing but dental floss and a milk carton. And I’m perfectly fine with that, even though it’s taken me a long time to get here.

Alpha moms, with their ability to make gourmet meals from scratch, keep a spotless house, and scrapbook every minute of their child’s lives, used to intimidate me. I felt that because I stayed home with my kids, I should be able to do those things, too. So when the turkey-shaped cookies I painstakingly decorated turned out looking like little round pieces of poop, or when company stopped by and there were toys strewn from one end of the house to the other because, instead of picking up, I’d been busy cutting my child out of the dental floss he’d somehow managed to wrap around his entire body while I took a shower, I ended up feeling like a failure as a mom. I felt as though I was letting my kids down because I couldn’t do the things their friends’ mothers did without messing everything up and freaking out.

After many failed attempts at baking and crafting, and many afternoons spent crying over my inabilities as a mother, I finally, rather begrudgingly, resigned myself to the fact that my lot in life is to be the juice box mom. I worked hard to be the best juice box mom in all the elementary school, and, after one of my daughter’s class parties, it actually paid off. Her teacher stopped me as I was leaving and said, “Thank you so much for always bringing extra drinks. Sometimes parents forget that younger siblings will also be attending class parties, and they end up being left out because we don’t have enough drinks for everyone.”

I just accepted the compliment, rather than telling her I brought extra drinks because I never could remember how many kids were in the class. But her compliment taught me an important lesson—just because I’m not crafty or overly domestic, I’m not a failure as a mom.

Not everyone is cut out to be an alpha mom, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe it’s okay to be the juice box mom. I may not bake cookies and decorate them to look like something straight out of Martha Stewart Living, but I do provide something to wash them down with. And I think that’s just as important.

Candance Gordon lives in Texas with her two children, Max and Grace. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in education and is author of the blog Crazy Texas Mommy ( Although she has become a better cook since writing this essay, Ms. Gordon says her kids still refuse to let her bring decorated cookies to class.