10 Years of Single dadventures: a letter to myself

Chad Travis Milner,

Ten years in business ain’t no chump shit…don’t ever forget it. In the summer of 2012, you were 26, and began to see some light after the darkest 16 months of your life. You became a father February 14, 2011, your partner diagnosed with terminal cancer days later, you moved thrice in seven months in different cities, your mother was diagnosed with cancer five months after your partner, your partner passes away; and after five months of custody hearings in two states, your happily every after could begin. You and I both know that heavy-ass sentence was the cliff-noted version of our story, so to any new reader and/or listener, imagine how many experiences those words were in real-life experiences?

But fuck all of that doom and gloom. I wrote them because this is a celebration.

When the dust settled, you came up with an idea in the form of two blog sites: Single Dadventures, where you shared your experiences raising your child, as a love letter to your friends and family who prayed for the two of you. “My Expensive Hobby” was the second, where you gave insights about music, which had become an expense-and somewhat liability-because of how much time it cost.

We never launched the latter because the former became part of your calling. In 2007, you gave up your career path in music-the one we had been groomed for all of our lives-for your relationship and nothing ever worked out. Music was created when you had a little free time; it’s hard to record vocals or blare music when the house is full of noise by two children. Hell, what propelled you into success as a writer was when your music computer crashed, and you could not compose for almost a year. Nonetheless, you toiled away and wrote songs about what you left off your site. I’ll elaborate in a couple paragraphs.

While music may have been on a proverbial pause, those keystrokes on a $54 Dell school laptop you bought on eBay (twice because the first one: Cydney spilled strawberry milk on while watching Doc McStuffins in 2013) became a craft, then a profession where you became a success. You were not a household name; nonetheless, you’ve seen your influence. In 2012 and 2013, when you began, there were little-to-no black fathers who shared their experiences in such detail on the internet. So much, jobs offered to pay you a little more because of its scarcity. You gave your daughter and nephew their own podcast in 2015; it was unique because we had yet to see this.

Your job was being a father and you paid the bills writing about being a father. Outside of your songs, fatherhood consumed too much of your life. You needed a break. You took a corporate job, still wrote 10 essays a week for multiple sites, and coached three sports 52 weeks a year. Around 30, you slowed down because it had become a lifestyle to operate and function at a high-level, past burnout. So much, in 2018, you wrote a post titled “The Death of Single Dadventures,” and did not renew the site for over a year.

You needed the break. Your work in this capacity was done. By the time you let your site go, social media gave rise to many other fathers of color, who shared their stories and others. You watched television shows where parts of the scripts were rooted in your work, and you were proud to see the message received, even if it was your indirect influence whomever wrote about it had no idea of. Single Dadventures was never about the money; but to create community and inspire others to tell their story.

In 2018, your mother handed you a camera and said, “God told me to give this to you.” Somehow, each of these small steps, which seemed to take you further and further away from your origins would lead you full circle.

The day Single Dadventures went live, your life became the Adventures of a Single Dad. The same weekend, you took a bus to another city, met up with friends, and every two weeks walked into the barbershop to tell a tall so hilariously absurd, all anyone could say was “Chad, whenever you come around, there’s always a girl story!” While I pitched op-eds to my editor, Kweli, she suggested I write a weekly dating and relationships column, from the perspective of a single black father, for the women’s lifestyle site. Life, art, and career created this perpetual cycle. It was good for business, and you were quite entertained.

Whatever you did not write about on Single Dadventures became the songs you dabbled at, whenever you had free time. In 2020, you started seeing a therapist, who helped you recognize patterns in your life and most importantly, assisted in you finding your way back to music. In the fall of 2020, you wrote two essays on this site, got serious, remembered you are a music prodigy, and well…you got busy. You applied the same discipline you once had for music, which had become refined as a writer, and kicked into “on steroids” as a photo and video editor, and then taught yourself French. Holy fuck as you write all of this, I am impressed with us.

Ten years later after you wrote you were not ready for your daughter to attend preschool, Cydney started sixth grade. Your nephew, the little boy you scribed about how your family felt you were too tough with while playing catch, is a high school junior, who stands at 6’5” and is a collegiate prospect in the sport. We’ll be 37 next month and music is no longer your expensive hobby, it is your abundant grace. Congratulations.

Chad Travis Milner, if you at 26 knew what the next decade would be like, the same way the high school senior version of us had no idea he would become you; in ten years, this version of myself will join y’all when 46-year-old Chad celebrates the next decade milestone.

Toujours L’amour,

Chad Travis Milner

Ps: Thank you to every last one of you, over the past ten years, from all over the world, who took the time to “Read it Because I Wrote It.”

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