the mediocrity maintenance plan

by Janelle Hanchett

At the risk of sounding a little conceited, I have to admit that everyday, I think I get a little closer to reaching the absolute pinnacle of perfect, unparalleled mediocrity. I have a true talent for this. We’re not talking about half-assed mediocrity. We’re talking the real freaking deal. Pure, unhindered, unadulterated average. The gray area is my domain, people. I rule the middle of the road. If my life were junior high classes, I’d be pulling C’s every period.

I know. It’s impressive.

Perfecting this art may seem complicated, especially since most people excel at something simply by default. But really, it isn’t that hard. And, since I tend to place others above myself (not unlike Mother Theresa and Ghandi), I’m willing to share with you the following guidelines in case you’d like to perfect the general mediocrity in your life. By following these simple steps, you’ll find that you absolutely cannot excel in any area of your existence. You will do exactly what you have to do each day simply to survive – nothing more, nothing less – and one day you will wake up, realizing joyfully that you have achieved real, true mediocrity.

  1. Have children. Preferably more than two.
  2. Make sure one of those children is under the age of one and wakes up at least three times a night, ensuring inadequate sleep patterns and unceasing general exhaustion.
  3. Do not stay home with those children, but go to work.
  4. But don’t work full time. Work part time. Working full time may result in actual focus on work, which could produce above-average performance. What we’re going for here is a sort of “one foot in – one foot out” scenario – so you’re not a working mom and you’re not a stay-at-home one either.
  5. On your days home, frantically attempt to make up for the time you were at work and do nothing else. This will ensure that you do not have time for any stellar stay-at-home mom tasks such as engaging with older children, sewing, cooking, communicating without yelling, gardening and/or doing crafts.
  6. Add many, many other activities to these two realms, as a safeguard against potential achievement in either the work or home arena (examples include, but are not limited to, sports and other activities for the children, having friends, staying married, reading, eating, writing a blog, pursing a graduate education, getting your hair done, losing weight, breastfeeding, keeping a pet alive, visiting family, bathing, etc.).

While it may seem too simple, I guarantee that with these steps will lead you to mediocre functioning no matter what. There is no way around it. You will be spread so thin that there will be no room for anything else. You will have friends you really care about but only call occasionally. You will miss appointments with them and not return calls. You will be too tired at work to do anything beyond the minimum, even though you want to, and when you are home, you will be so behind on housework and household tasks (from the days that you were at work) that excellence in mothering or wifedom will be out of the question. With very little effort on your part, you will become a staggering idiot at work – a frantic nut-job at home – treading water in the deep end, every day, pumping your little legs frantically just to keep your mouth a 1/2  inch above the water. You will move furiously and with wild abandon to keep from drowning. Under these conditions, mediocrity invariably reigns.

If you find yourself excelling in an area, no worries. Just add more activities to your list. Or, and this one never fails to produce immediate results: have another baby.

Then repeat steps 1-6. Forever. And call me. We’ll remind each other of the merits of mediocrity, in between spells of weeping and general malaise.


  • Teresa


    • renegademama

      This one was for you, my friend. Great to see you today.

  • Julie

    Only the mediocre are always at their best!

    • renegademama

      this cracked me up. thanks for that one!

  • Amanda

    Sigh…so true.

  • Kimberly

    One thing is fo’ sho’. Your writing, dripping with sarcasm, is anything but mediocre.

    Great stuff here.

    • renegademama

      Thank you. After I wrote it, I actually hated this post, but put it up anyway because a friend of mine and I were discussing this exact thing – feeling stuck in the “average” because we just can’t be everywhere, doing everything well. Thanks again.

  • Christina

    I was starting to get really down on myself reading this. It was hitting a little too close to home. Of course maybe its just the rainy grey gloomy day out. (at least thats what I am going to tell myself)

    Anyway I am glad I am not the only one who goes dark every now and then.

    • renegademama

      Yeah, as I said in the other comment, after I wrote this I hated it – it made me want to vomit and I crafted the damn thing (quickly, though, and in a very bitter moment). Sometimes I just get so sick of feeling like I can’t do anything well, like I’m just surviving. I think it’s an indicator that something has to give in my life — and it will. 🙂 It always does.

  • anastasia mcdonnellism

    I don’t even participate in work outside the home and yet…still pullin’ straight C’s. Dear Abbey, HELP.

    • renegademama

      Ah, it does suck, doesn’t it? Sometimes I just get sick of feeling like I’m just getting by, ya know? I know it will change. I know this is a short time (babyhood, etc.), but MAN sometimes it seems to go on forever. We’ll hang together. Rock on with your bad C-average self. Word.

  • Shan

    Whoop whoop! I’m in! Some parts of this post reminded me of this video:

    “And my sexual performances are average!” LMAO

    • renegademama

      see reply on next post. my heart is cuddling yours right now. that may be the most retarded thing I’ve ever written.

  • Mir

    So true. take it from a former person of excellence. The adding more kids is perfect for leveling you. I felt like a good mommy when I only had one kid ( probably most irritating to my peers). I worked full time as a teacher when he was in elementary school after spending his first 3.5 years at home devoted totally to his development. Now I have 3 kids, no job and can’t even get to the grocery with a list and coupons or return with all I went to get. I am old 41, have a 13 year old, 3 year old, and a 1 year old that is enough to level me right there. I can’t think of a single area I excel in now (not even sure if I spelled excel correctly) Gave up my career and “status” and do not even try to do anything but the basics. I am basically humbled daily.


    Mediocrity breeds contempt.

  • Calamity Jane

    “Mediocrity breeds contempt?” (in the last comment) What the fuck does that mean anyway?
    This post is hilarious, I’m so glad you didn’t pull it off. It’s not dark, it deals with dark, by humor. That’s our special human thing, laughing off the very worst of our nightmares.
    I just bet you love Vonnegut..
    You’re ironic sarcasm is right up my alley. But let me tell you, the drowning/treading water/lips barely above the surface? I’ve used that EXACT metaphor in my writing to describe full time stay at home mothering of a mere TWO kids.
    Your formula isn’t exclusive. Nyeah.

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