On Being Mom and Dad

Fathers, who haven’t been divorced, are [insert unfair, generalizing, controversial, upsetting statement].
Read on.

Weekdays: Get up, go to work, come home, go to bed.
Weekends: Work on something, hang out with friends.

Oh! Don’t forget to play with your kids.  But when does it happen?  After work? Before dinner, after dinner? Before bed?

Before getting divorced, as the “bread winner”, (I still have yet to “win” any bread…just saying) I was unable to play with my kids from 8-5, because of work, 7-6, to include getting ready and drive time.  I would play with them while dinner was being made, unless I was making it,  but at their age, it was more often damage control rather than stimulating play time.  Put in the swing, take out of the swing, put in the crib, take out of crib, find pacifier, insert pacifier, change didy widy, bounce on knee, rinse, repeat.   My fathering skills were, classic, “traditional Dad”;  Don’t show love, emotion,  swoop in when there is upset,  over correct bad behavior, when it’s convenient (proximity),  lay down the law, or hold the baby for a second.  On weekends, I was usually busy doing something else, and interaction with my kids was generally only when I had to hold them.

Sound familiar?

Then, it was time to fix life.  Divorce felt inevitable at a certain point.  Life in, life out, fight after fight.  And then, one pivotal conversation flushed our lives into the ever-spinning toilet of divorce.  An apt metaphor on many levels if you really think about it.  Ever felt great after using the toilet?  Yeah, then you get the reference.  Turmoil, pain, fighting, chaos.   Making the decision is easy.  It’s dealing with the fact that your kids won’t always be there, anymore, that is gut wrenching.  That’s the true decision.  Do I put up with this abuse spewing cuntcano psychopath for another 16 years and still see my kids everyday, or do I end the madness and settle for less time with my kids.  I can’t find a good way to illustrate the weeks of confusion and difficulty involved with making the final call.  In the end, obviously, I made the decision, got the bumper sticker;  ”This car climbed Mt. Cuntcano”.   Moving on.

During the divorce you just, stare.  Constantly.  Everywhere you go.  Nothing smells, or tastes. It just is.  Except for a few short hours each week.

Dad time.

For a few hours, two days during the week, and every other weekend, I have the pleasure of hanging out with two, bubbly, happy, human beings, painting life back into color.  ”Holding the baby” is now an experience; warm, soft, squirmy.  You notice and feel eye contact, little microscopic facial hair, specks in the iris of the left eye.  You remember the grip strength of four fingers and a thumb wrapped around a finger.  Stuffed animal forts are something you build with them, not something you remark “that looks nice dear”.  Every second is slurped up and savored.  I was there, both physically, and emotionally.  I was it, the “one”.

I was Mom and Dad.

I was the whole shooting match, their entire world.  For “half” of the time.  This changed me instantly, from a spectator, to the coach.  This “game” depended on me to make the right calls, develop great plays, run solid practices.  I felt this very powerful shift away from being “proverbial Dad” to who I am now.

It is possible that some of these things I was, back then, are due to the shell of a person I had become, due to the relationship I was in.  I could have been “father autopilot” based on the relationship, and if given the chance to have children for the first time in a full, healthy relationship, things would have been different.   How many people do you know are in “perfect relationships”?  Probably a handful.  I’ll give humans that much credit, there are some really great relationships out there.  Especially ones that nurture, life in kids.  But for all the bad ones that are still together, (and always might be, for better or for worse), please at least put your energy into thinking about how awesome you are parenting, or could be.

It’s been 6 years and I still guard my time with my kids.  I still jockey for more time with them, around every holiday and vacation.  I still don’t schedule anything on the days I have them.  And I always will.

Play Tag. Always.


I don’t feel like it.
I’m tired
Not right now
Maybe Later
My [body part] hurts
I can’t right now

When your child asks, can you [insert activity] with me?  Is your response, one of the above?  I know I’ve said those things in the past, a hundred times.   Now, obviously, children could ask this question a hundred times per day, and it’s not realistic, or healthy to play with them EVERY time they ask, but as children age, especially when they are old enough to entertain themselves, I think it’s easy for parents to fall out of habit of playing with their kids.

I noticed this behavior, in my parenting, over the past year.  I was saying no, often.   How long had this been happening?   When the kids were little, ages 1 to 2,  I played with them often.  Through the divorce, ages 2-4, I played with them a ton, way more than if I hadn’t been divorced, actually.  Then after 6, I got busy building a downstairs, and then a garage, and they became older and enjoyed just playing by themselves, and it just stayed that way.

Two weeks ago, we took them to a playground, to play.  I threw the ball for the dog a few times, and then went over to take pictures of them playing on the playground.  I’m realizing now, what a perfect shield, a camera is, against playing with my kids.  I can be there, without being there, so easily with a camera.  But, that’s a whole other article, the relationship between parent, camera, and kids. “Nope, can’t play, taking pictures” is the sign that invisibly hangs around my neck, sandwich board style.

After feeling bored with taking pictures, I sat on the bench and watched them play, which truly is a wonderful activity, all on it’s own.  Then they asked.

Can you play with us?

I could feel my rolodex of lame excuses fly up in front of me.  My conscience fought for a voice, “you shouldplay with them”, the rolodex spun, voice from partner, “come on it’ll be fun”, rolodex slowed down and landed on…


Hours later, we all had played the most amazing game of tag, in, on and around the play structure.  Making up rules, like, you can’t touch the ground for more than 5 seconds, and no tag backs for 15 seconds.  Driving away from the playground, I thought, “what would life be like, without that game of tag”.

Last friday, we were sitting at the “drop off”, a name affectionately given to the intersection point between their two worlds, the “hand off” between Mom and Dad.   A gift, really, the drive to and the waiting at.  Built in, quality time, though not always, that we spend before school at least 2 days each week.  We generally play a game on the drive, counting colored cars, or types of cars, or eye spy.  And then talk, or listen to music, or tickle and annoy one another.  Last Friday, exercising my new found power over my lame excuses, I said “yes” and we played Tag.  Because one of our rules was staying “near” the car, we ended up just running around and around the car, tagging each other.  We would grab someones arm just before being tagged which would pass it along to the grabbed person.  We would accidentally run into the mirrors, or slip near the trunk, and get tagged.

We laughed, out loud, running, for 15 minutes.  One of my favorite drop offs ever.

In life, if you’re asked to play, say yes.

Time To Simplify

MyGarageBuild.com, is a great little idea, humming along, people watch it, the blog posts itself from youtube, and although I’m unhappy with I want to be one of those people, that can affect an industry.  That can with a few choice words can bend a way of thinking.  In my quest to discover, “what should I do with my life”, I read about major players in different industries.  I check out their Biographies.  I study their path.  I want to know how they got there.  Not because I want to follow their path, but I’m looking for similarities.  Clues.  For all those people, something led them to greatness, be it, fate, luck, tragedy or whatever.  On the way to work this morning, I discovered something they all have in common.


I know.  It seems so obvious.  Forgive me, while I second guess myself, it’s part of this learning and growing process.

They have a passion for one particular thing, and they live it and breath it.  They have something to share, and something to add from very early on, because they surround themselves with their passion and learn everything they can about it.  I do not.

I searched briefly in between the Norwich and Thetford exit, for things I am passionate about.  Garages? nope.  Fixing stuff? nope.  Lawn care? nope.  Guitars? nope.  Doing video?  Close, but not really.  It’s fun.  But it doesn’t feel like I am passionate about it.  In my search, it immediately led me to…why?  To which the obvious answer is, I am doing hundreds of things all the time, in genres so far removed from each other there is no way to draw parallels between them.  I work on cars, and write code?  I play music (hardly ever) and do tile work?  Fix plumbing, write a blog.  I maintain a video series, and raise two kids.  I’m just all over the place.  I discovered on my drive, that I’m spread too thin. I jump from thing to thing, spending bits of time on each, getting “into” something just a little bit, until something shiny passes near me, and I chase it for a while.  I really do feel like a big dumb labrador retriever.  I’m not focussed.  I do a hundred things good, but nothing well.  And I’m tired of it, I’m done.

Most of the change that needs to happen, is just a shift in perspective.  Honestly the majority of solving life’s problems is just a shift in perspective, a different understanding.  I need to release all of the things I’m trying to do, and choose one to focus on.  Now, obviously, I’m not going to release raising my children.  So let’s just state that there are a certain number of things, a baseline from where we start.  Raising kids, doing dishes, taking out the trash, paying bills, loving partner, seeing friends (this last one is a whole blog post in it’s self…stay tuned).  So beyond the baseline, I need to focus on one thing.  The perspective shift is not that I’m going to drop everything else, which was where I naturally went in my brain.  Focus on one thing, drop everything else.  I starting thinking about selling my camera, and tractor, and tools in the garage and selling everything in order to simplify and cleanse life.  But after a little reflection, I realized I can accomplish the simplifying without liquifying assets.  I choose the word assets, because they are all tools (the things I was thinking of selling).  Tools which accomplish, or help accomplish tasks.  I realized that I can make the decision to stop all the “other” in my life, and just having the tools idle is ok.  It’s kind of their nature.  One can’t possibly use all of his tools all the time, and so by pure definition, tools are meant to sit idle until needed.   The shift in my mind I am making is, to eliminate the expectation that I will use the tools or that I “must” use the tools.  I carry around a certain amount of guilt about the expensive camera I bought.  If I don’t use it, I wasted that money.  I’m choosing to sell that guilt, instead of the camera.  This should help ease the stress of all that money “wasted” cause I’m not using the tools so I can focus on one thing.

So.  Guilt gone.  There are multiple categories that take my time above and beyond baseline.
Business Ideas
Active Projects
Around the House Projects (maintenance is under “baseline”, these are things that dont’ NEED to be done)

I can’t seem to stop or reduce the number of “business ideas” I come up with.  Perhaps I’m thinking to much, perhaps I should be spending more time working on one idea.  I’ve figured out in the last year, and have practiced, writing them down immediately.  My current shift in perspective will require resisting working on each and every one.  I am only allowed one.

My active projects, like www.mygaragebuild.com, and seventy9studios.com and troubleshoot.tv, and thepelletclub.com, and the other ones I haven’t launched yet, need to be trimmed down.  I don’t like troubleshoot.tv anymore.  I built it as an exercise in development, and when I was finished i didn’t like how much work for myself i’d built into the idea.  The pelletclub, is a great idea that is sitting in a realm I couldn’t care less about.

Note for future: Try to weed out the business ideas that are firmly rooted in an industry, about which, I could care less.

how lame the posts end up being, and that I want to add content to each post, I’m just not going to stress about it, or put anymore time into it.

Around the house projects, will get done, when they get done.  I am not on any sort of timeline, not under the gun to get it finished before winter.  Unless there is some dying need, just let it happen when it happens.

Focus. Simplify.  Passion.

Wait.  Passion?  What is my passion?  I also figured this out on the drive in, at least for the time being. (that’s a strange saying, “time being”, I bet it has a silent “now”  ”at least for the time being now”)  I was rattling off the things in my life, that I’m not passionate about, and I seemed to have run across all of them when I said, except.  It was one of those realization moments (no, I will not say “a ha” moment).

Except. Starting businesses.

I am passionate about coming up with business Ideas, and running them through their paces, and creating plans on how to start them.  Why oh why didn’t I dive into this in business school.  Oh yeah, I think it was cause I couldn’t spell the word entrepreneur with any sort of consistency.   Who knows.  The point is, I’m 13 years behind schedule.  My Passion is entrepreneurship.   It is what I do.

So, time to focus.

Thanks for reading.


Choosing to choose – Own your life

One of my favorite life lessons learned, is actually a lesson taught to my partner from her mother, and shared with me.  As with so many things, it is so simple it’s easy to overlook, but makes a huge difference in how we perceive everything in life.  Get ready, cause it could be life changing.

Choose.  We can make an active choice in everything we do, think, and feel.

It’s so obvious when you think about it, but very hard in practice because you are in contest with all your habits and learned behaviors.  For instance, I used to be mad and angry when I was sick with a cold.  I would stomp around being irritated, until my partner asked me “why are you so mad”, to which I gruffly responded with “Cause I’m sick!”, “Why does that mean you have to be mad?” she asked, and I didn’t have a reason.

Choose how you want to interact with this world.  Choose to behave in ways that would make your children proud.  Choose to be happy at someones party, when you might be mentally stuck from something else that happened.  Choose to eat better.  Choose to exercise.  Or choose to sit on the couch, and eat crap.  The second part of the lesson, and most importantly is this:

Own your choice.

If you choose to behave in ways you regret and you don’t own that choice, you’re doing yourself a dis-service.  You’re hurting your progress forward (assuming that’s the direction you’ve chosen).  If you choose to eat poorly, OWN IT.  Recognize that it’s a choice you have made.   Why are thrill seekers so happy all the time?  They have chosen to live dangerously and they own that choice. They are comfortable with the risk, and are accepting that they have chosen this path.  The world hasn’t brought these things that you don’t like down upon you.  It’s not the guy who cut you off in line at the store, who made you mad, and so you frowned and complained at that persons party.  You CHOOSE to be mad at that guy.  Own that.  You’ll find as soon as you own it.  ”Yes, I made myself upset at that guy”  you will find it very difficult to stay mad.

And remember, once you realize you have chosen to be where you are, for good or bad, you can choose to start heading towards where you want to be.

Thanks for choosing to read this.

AdamLHadlock.com is

  • A journal of my own self understanding
  • An ever changing business plan
  • A historical record of what I’ve done, learned and accomplished
  • A plan of what to do next
  • A sounding board for new ideas

And ultimately a reflection of who I am.