All posts by The Adventures of A Single Dad

My name is Chad and I am a single father. I have a little girl who is eighteen months old named Cydney. I am also the father figure to my six year old nephew, Courtney. Here’s the short version: My fiancé and I met in college in 2004 and started dating in 2006. In our five years together, we were best friends who saw each other through many adverse times in which many times may have been us against the world or us against each other. On July 12, 2010 I woke up from a nap to a positive pregnancy test. I gave her a kiss on her forehead and knew that our lives were going to be different and the love that we had for each other would be put into this child on the way. We began to make plans for our budding family and left Atlanta to move to New York during the pregnancy so that all of our family could be involved. Our daughter Cydney Moriah was born February 14, 2011. 4lbs, 9 oz, 19 inches long. After she was born, my fiancé was what was thought to be preeclampsia. After nine days of testing, biopsies, and x-rays she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had already progressed to the fourth stage. After nine months of putting up a fight, moving from New York City to Buffalo to Hampton, VA my fiancé lost her fight and passed away December 9, 2011 at 25 years old; one day after our five year anniversary. As opposed to the normal just adjusting to life after a devastating loss, I had to endure months of custody hearings in the states of New York and Virginia, having to prove I was Cydney’s father, and not seeing my daughter for five months because my fiancé’s parents were trying to take custody from me. Since April 3, 2012 my daughter has been back with me and honestly it’s been nothing more than wonderful. After months of deliberating and figuring things out I felt that I should share my experiences, adventures (and misadventures), and tips for other single fathers and parents in general out there. Parenting is not easy and it’s REALLY not easy being a single parent.

Hiatus

By mid-August, I was approximately halfway through a series on Instagram I’d dubbed #Summer97: several 200+ word essays I wrote once a day. As I concentrated on the music that inspired my current worldview, I’d hit a creative zone. I was approximately two weeks away from celebrating the five year anniversary of this very blog and felt great. One day, it all came to a screeching halt.

It was a rainy afternoon in Lower Manhattan. I stood outside of my 9-5 on my lunch break and began my then-daily ritual of planning my #Summer97 post. I looked up from my phone and noticed a man that made direct eye contact with me. Without breaking connection, the man walked over and said “You’re a lucky man. You always find yourself in a lucky position and things work out for you.”

I replied with a customary thank you. The man then iterated “But your luck will soon run out.”

A little confused, I gave the guy a look as if he needed to repeat himself; he did. The second time, he explained that while I am a lucky man, things are about to change.

The New Yorker in me almost told son to his face a mantra I live by: I create my own luck, b. I decided not to pull a Chad and run my mouth. I thought before I spoke and realized this man looked as if he had been outside all afternoon; but he was bone dry and wasn’t carrying an umbrella. He must have been a Yogi or Shaman or some shit; he definitely had a spiritual aura. In retrospect, I should have known that. However, I didn’t want to stereotype him by his attire.

I am a firm believer in a spiritual realm in which people have been blessed with gifts; apparently the dry Shaman in the rain’s was to see spirits and their potential trajectory. We conversed for about five minutes. He even told me what I should do to change what seemed to have been a change in my luck.

Boy was that guy right. However, all of the squeezing lemon juice around my neck, doing the hokey pokey, and turning myself around that Dry In the Rain Man suggested to change things around would not have altered what would happen next.

A few weeks after this encounter, life got very intense. My workload increased drastically, my uncle died unexpectedly, familial issues on steriods, school started for Cydney, and of course girl problems were in there, too. At some point, I can and maybe will go into detail about some of all that went on. It became difficult to channel this negative energy into my creativity. Before I knew it, all of my artistic innovation momentum ceased.

There was another way to look at all of what happened. I have believed for some time I created my own luck. Rarely-if ever-have I prayed for anything twice. I felt as if doing so is a lack of trust in the God I serve; a lack of faith, so to speak. My mantra for life is “Everything will work out because I’m me.”

I could have continued to push through, write, and do all of the above simultaneously. My imaginative impetus would have continued and the work could have been great. But it wouldn’t have had direction or that umph behind it that would have been the difference between entertainment and something meaningful.

For the past five months, I have been asked several times by readers, followers, fans, friends, and family when I would write again. I’d reply with some variation of “soon.” I meant to and meant well but life just kept happening. In some capacity or another, I have written close to 1,000,000 words. On average, I penned approximately 2,000 a day and other times I’d binge out 30,000 in a week. I grew tired of my focus being on the same things, over and over again.

In spite of no published material, there has been plenty to catch you all up with. The dust has begun to settle. Somewhere between faith and practicing what I preached, it was time to begin telling the tales again.

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The Eulogy I Couldn’t Give My Uncle

December 6, 2017. Today would have been my Uncle Jeffrey’s 55th birthday. Unfortunately, God called him home three months ago and my familial dynamic has been very different.

I knew I was speaking at my uncle’s memorial service; I wasn’t quite sure what I’d say. He was a street guy, so there were many things I wanted to say that would have been inappropriate in a church. So I wrote them all down:

Can I kick it? Well, I’m gone…

Friends, family, and acquaintances: you are waiting for me to finally say one thing and one thing only; so we will all say it together: Chad, you look just like your uncle.

Second only to “I can’t with you,” the phrase “Chad you look just like Jeff” is the most popular phrase I hear regularly. Walking down the street, a lady walked up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and said “Hey Jeff!” I didn’t want to make her feel bad by saying “I’m his nephew.”

It is difficult to speak in Grace United Methodist Church about Jeffrey Mumford without there being some “Murdock Ave” moments in this eulogy. Also, humor is my coping mechanism; I just want to get that out of the way before I get started.

There are times in which my mother cannot stand me because I remind her of my father. On the other hand, my mother and I get along very well because I remind her of her brother.

I am a lot like my uncle. We’re both Sagittarius’s, tall, charming, funny, and have a tapered haircut with curls, a mustache and goatee that don’t connect because Mumford men are babyfaces…and forgetful (word to the beef I had with him when I was six years old when he borrowed my Mickey Mouse watch and I had to ask him incessantly for it back).

All jokes aside, I looked up to my uncle. He was cool; he was respected in the streets, and just had an aura about him. My earliest memories of him are him mixing records and my grandmother’s basement, looping the break in “Yes We Can, Can,” by the Pointer Sisters, over and over. He was the person in my family that was hip hop and I loved that.

We shared an affinity for getting into trouble for marching to the beat of our own drum with a disruptive cadence. On elementary school field trips, I was the kid that needed his own chaperone; and Uncle Jeffrey was the one that would come along (and all the girls thought he was so cute); we’d have a great time, too.

The day before my first baseball game, right over there at Peter’s Field off Liberty Ave, he took me in my grandmother’s back yard, drew home plate on the ground with a crayon, and showing me how to swing when someone is pitching the ball.

My uncle was that uncle; the wild uncle that said and did fairly crazy shit. Nonetheless, that was part of what made him charismatic. Somewhere between nature and nurture, I picked a lot up from him. As a teenager, we would drive around Queens and he taught me valuable lessons my parents couldn’t; that’s what uncles do.

With the latest mixtapes as the soundtrack, we drove around South and Northside Jamaica, and he would tell me about his life while dropping gems. I learned how to roll a blunt from my uncle, what to roll one with (Never use papers or Philly’s. Dutches-NY for Dutch Masters cigars-burn slower); as well as how to properly smoke weed while driving (You keep a slight crack in the driver’s side window. It blows directly out the window like a vent and doesn’t smell up the car)….I didn’t smoke weed at the time; but those words wound up being useful information at another point in my life. My uncle was the first person to let me hold a gun and taught me how to shoot using a beebe gun in my grandmother’s basement (those holes are still in the wall).

During our walks and drives, he would tell me stories about his adult life. He knew how much we were alike and felt as if telling me was a second chance for him to do what he chose not to. “Let me tell you about hoes…” was his way of informing me that women can be a distraction and loyalty to one was more important (“But if you do, strap up,” he’d say). He would tell me to stay away from drugs by giving me his encounters with wise words such as “Withdrawal is a bitch.”

My uncle was a street guy and I picked up some of his nuances. In no way am I a street guy; but I know how to conduct myself in that manner. It’s the underlying edge I have that every once in a while slips out and I say some fairly hood shit…I’ve seen girlfriends of mine who didn’t know that side of me at all scrunch up their face in disbelief and ask “What did you just say?!”

We’re both frustratingly nonchalant and made a joke out of everything. The stoic face was-and is-the setup for a hilarious punchline we’d say out of the corner of our mouths if you were close enough to hear it. As recently as Easter Sunday, we joked around, saying that if we didn’t make fun of you, we’re not really your friend.

Hip hop was our covalent bond. We listened to A Tribe Called Quest a lot (my second beef in life with him was at 16, when I had to repeatedly ask “Can I have my anthology CD back?!). He knew Kid Hood from the “Scenario Remix.” Hood told my uncle he got on the record and was killed the next day. He told me how he’d played ball with Tribe at St. Albans Park, Phife sucked, and my uncle busted his ass. So I guess the last thing I have to say is I hope he makes it his business to catch up to Kid Hood and tear Phife up in that rematch.

But now for what we’ve all been waiting for: I was driving the other day, with my cap not fully on my head and cocked to the back, and my glasses on as I rapped along to whatever I was listening to. I was finally able to admit to myself “Damn, I look like my uncle.”

Letter To Timile Pt. 2

Timile,
The other day was the first time I’d spoken to you in a very long time. It was rude of me to not have said a word in God knows how long and the first thing I did was vent. Telling you “I’m just tired of this shit,” in reference to several things going on. That was selfish of me. 

While I’m aware you’re looking down, you can’t see my thoughts; but you’ve been on my mind a lot recently. Well, I shouldn’t say that. You frequently cross my mind; nonetheless, it’s different these days. 

What’s prompting this letter was a conversation I had with Chase the other day. I laughed about him being married and the talk of having a kid. It was really funny hearing him of all people sound so domesticated. He sounded like someone in his thirties; but I still remember the 18 year old I met at orientation that wore his collar popped up all of the time. It’s funny because our peers are at the age where they’re settled down and starting families…they’re just catching up to us 10 years ago and couldn’t relate to our lives in 2007. I’ll never forget the time I went to visit Devin in DC a few years ago and this guy left because he and his wife were having a family meeting…it was just the two of them, so every conversation they had was a family meeting. That was the same guy who didn’t quite “get it” when I moved differently because of you.

Anywho, in the conversation, I was telling Chase how I recently lied to someone to get out of explaining myself and you were a part of it. He asked if I felt bad about having to do so. I told him “Not one bit,” knowing that you would’ve understood. You know how we did; we shut people up by any and all means.

In our talk, I told Chase that my time with you feels like a lifetime ago, we both more or less have moved on. A couple of years back, Cydney first told me you were married; then he was just a boyfriend and eventually it evolved to “He was just a boy who is your friend.” So I kind of want to talk relationships with you.

So who is he? I’m happy for you, so I’m curious and would like to know more. There are just so many options up there I presume and it’d better not be someone from the bible or something. How’d y’all meet? Not like I’d really understand because Heaven is kind of past my realm of understanding right now. How’d he die? Is it a he? You could have a girlfriend and Cydney didn’t quite know how to explain it. I have so many questions because I’m a curious guy.

You know none of this comes from a jealous place. I told you when we first started talking, when a man’s on his job, there’s no need to seek anything else…and did the best I could to live up to that. There were times you went astray and in retrospect, I understood. We were young, still living in a world of ideals, and experience hadn’t equipped us with an arsenal to combat the not-so-great times. No matter what, there was never any question of where my loyalty lied.

You’ve seen where I’ve been these days. I can’t seem to escape the wildly dramatic stuff. I be feeling like Carlito’s Way: Every time I get out, I get pulled back in, pull off the caper, try to flee town, and there’s Benny Blanco from the Bronx popping three off in the stomach in point-blank range…I’m trying. But on the other side of that coin, this shit is kind of fun. Whenever I do settle down again, there will be no regrets or stones left unturned…I needed that.

One of the most relevant aspects of our relationship helped me grow was learning how to argue. I used to get my ass kicked in our disputes. Then I became a writer, I remembered learned lessons of backing up my premise with convincing points and facts that can’t be refuted. In my interpersonal relationships with women, I may lose the fight; but I’m going to win the argument. Actually winning the argument is why I’ll lose the fight. I’m okay with that.

Underneath all of my bullshit, I’m still a teddy bear inside. That side just doesn’t get to be seen by anyone outside of my daughter and well…you know. The person that I am at 32 years old, you wouldn’t stay with. Not because I’m some bad person or we wouldn’t have been able to work it out; I have just evolved. There’s a possibility that maybe it would have worked out because we would have grown together. But that wasn’t God’s plan, so I don’t want to go down that lane and second guess perfection, nahmean?

Shit, if you’re married or whatever up there, I’m still trying to grow up and be like you. I presume dating in Heaven is different than on Earth. For starters, I’m on Earth and you’re in something…that in itself makes a big difference. I’m sure whoever made the cut was someone who knows who I am and because he too is in paradise, is happy for Cydney and I, and doesn’t really have a care in the world or insecurity. That shit is really dope. 

Down here, you’ve been the elephant in the room a few times. And I guess I understand that, especially since a few of these people I have dated were people who knew you. I just chuckled because I just heard you saying “Tell them to stop acting like little bitches,” in your snarky tone. Years ago, I had a very interesting conversation with one of these young ladies who said they were a little wary because they feel like you’d be mad. You and I both know there’s only one person you’d really be mad if I dated/talked to and that actually happened about five years ago. I reassured her that you would be happy if I chose her. You and I know you’d be happy because she doesn’t look like what you were afraid I’d cheat on you with.

Either way, I’m just chillin’ and so is Cydney. She’s really trying to marry me off. She wants younger siblings badly. I think she’s tired of being the bottom of the totem pole and wants someone to boss around. But really, she wants me to be happy first and second, finally fill that familial void she’s missing. But that little girl no matter what just wants me to be happy and find happiness. She calls me on my shit all the time. Holy fuck I’ve never heard a kid talk so much about when I need to find a girl by. Cyd said by September, I need to find a girlfriend so that we can all go to WBLS’ Circle of Sisters. I’m sure it’s killing you that Cydney is really Chad Milner, Jr.

This was a great talk I think. I will make sure I do this more often. This season of my life is a transitional one. I’m rapidly evolving and experiencing some growing pains. As of today, I like to think of our relationship as if we were divorced but still really good friends. There’s still love; but no “what if’s” because we just weren’t compatible as lovers. We’re Winny and Kevin from The Wonder Years…

Until next time,

Solo 

Father’s Day Hangover Pt. 2

One of the cards I received Sunday…

​Maybe one of my favorite all-time movie dads, King Jaffe Jofer was right when he said “There is a thin line between love and nausea.” I wake up with a hangover every Monday after Father’s Day. I wonder if I’m the only person who feels like this. It’s possible so much recognition causes my body to go into shock and it needs to recover.
The gifts, the BBQ’s, brunches, and what have you are all cool (I’m jealous of you rare dads that get to have alone time that weekend). The reason why Father’s Day means so much to us patriarchs is very simple: validation for our work.

In spite of some issues, Father’s Day was amazing. My daughter Cydney wanted to have a barbeque for me and my favorite people-unfortunately my dad couldn’t make it-in attendance. My nephew wanted to try lemon pepper wings; I made that happen and he loved them. I taught Cydney how to ride a two-wheel bike. I got cards with handwritten notes from my kids and my best friend…and I contributed to a video for Attn: that racked over 100k views. My work was working.

Over the past week, I have been giving the word validation a substantial amount of thought. My good friend, K-Star made a joke in our group chat and it resonated with me. After every clever quip he made, he followed with “Good one, K-Star.” I thought it was brilliant.

K went on to say that he had been giving himself hi-fives all week and it made him feel great. Somewhere between finding it funny and believing my friend, I gave it a shot. I first tried it in the group chat and it felt pretty good. I then tried it out in real life. While working at my desk at a job I’m not too enthralled about, I gave myself these little hi-fives after completing each task. 

K-Star pointed out the elusive obvious, or the thing that was right in front of us and we didn’t see it. How often do we validate ourselves? More often than not, people tend to let their insecurities drive them. Our brains are wired to unconsciously push us into circumstances for us to say “I knew I was _____! See?!” The balance to this is that people have a slightly exaggerated viewpoint of themselves as well. For as much as we try to coerce ourselves into thinking we aren’t good enough, we do the same to say “I am great.”

More often than not, we look outward for this validation. There is nothing wrong with that because we are human creatures. However, we tend to neglect the person who matters the most: us. 

An hour after K shared his epiphany, I felt amazing. As a very competitive person, I wanted to keep finding things to do to tell myself “Good one, Chad.” My mood changed. I began to ask better questions and finish tasks in record time at work. My writer’s block completely went away and I began to pen a fairly ambitious project. Something as simple as giving myself an inner hi-five was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

By the time Sunday came along, external validation had greater intrinsic value. Maybe I felt hungover because my body was in shock from all of the validation. Good one, Chad. Good one, K-Star.

I think all of you reading this should give this a shot. Do it for a day and let me know how it made you feel.

Little Women’s Intuition

To be six years old, Cydney Milner’s ability to read people is nothing short of Godlike. Underneath all of her quirks, clamors for attention, and always something to say is a keenly observant little girl who pays attention to everything.

My daughter is becoming a girl. I don’t mean in the sense she likes pink and princess-y things; she is beginning to think like a girl. To be honest, that freaks me out a little bit. As a twin, I witnessed the stages, thoughts, and behaviors girls go through in real-time. She has begun the cognitive evolution that will result in a disconnect in how she interprets information from me.

I guess the perfect phrase to describe what I am witnessing from the apple of my eye is little women’s intuition. As a guy, I wholly believe that such a thing exists; but I have witnessed so many adult women swear on this phenomena and be dead wrong (I’ll save this for another post because Lord knows I have lots to say). Nonetheless, Cydney seems to be very in-tune to nuances and behavioral patterns. Because she is an extroverted kindergartner, she completely lacks filter and needs to express herself or she’ll burst at the seams. 

Cydney’s “little women’s intuition” most often surfaces around my dating life. It makes perfect sense because the end result of whomever I choose affects her life as well. Cyd knows what she and I want, who I like and who likes me, and who is truly a platonic friend. Since she was two years old, my child has done things such as walk off to a table of women knowing I’d have to follow, told a girl “you’re flirting with my dad,” arranged meet-ups, and a litany of other ways to tell me “cut the shit, Daddy.” At four years old, my daughter told me what her mission was: I’m the bait, and you reel them in. I’m thankful Cydney knows nothing about sex; otherwise she’d call out tension, every time. 

The force is strong with my little one. I let her filter-free forthrightness rock because feelings are abstract and the older we get, the more we keep them to ourselves. She knows when I am searching for an answer and can’t find it, so she blurts it out. To most, her words get written off as a kid saying the darndest thing; but I know she’s dead serious. Statements like “You’re not here for me, you’re here to see my dad” could easily be followed with a wink directed at me.

My daughter calls me out, also. She knows that I get in my own way and who better to assist? Moments like “You’re just happy you got to face time with [redacted]!” are her ways of telling me to not be so nonchalant and girls need to see that. That may be my biggest hurdle, playing things down. Without knowing all of the details of relationships, I get the feeling my kid wants to grab me, shake me, and say “DADDY BE THE WAY TO HER THAT YOU ARE WITH ME, DUH!” If I asked her, she would say “Yep.”

I ran into a friend from high school at a 7eleven a few weeks ago. As we caught up, the friend asked me how I have been. I gave my cliché answer “Just keeping busy and out of trouble.” Out of nowhere, my daughter chimed in “I like you being single, Daddy,” and gave me the biggest hug. The truth is she loves that she has me all to herself; but she doesn’t want it to be that way for much longer.

Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Love Thy Frienemies

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.
“Even Cam get money again.” Book of Double Up, chapter three: epilogue. 

Since I began the Mason Betha Devotional, it was only a matter of time before Ma$e became a headline. A little over a week ago, Harlem Diplomat Cam’Ron told the world that Ma$se became a pastor to protect himself from the streets. The good reverend dismissively refuted said claims. 

The first single from Ma$e’s sophomore album was a Shalamar-interpolating number entitled “Get Ready.” For a project named Double Up, it was only right the Harlemite told the world it was “get money” time once more. After he shouted out several of his constituents, he saved the best for last, Camron Giles, aka Cam’Ron.

 We grow a part from many that we once thought we’d never be able to live without; this was the case with Cam and Mas. Not only were they teammates on the basketball court, they were both members of the hip hop collective, Children of the Corn[er Preachers]. After being delivered when P. Diddy named him pretty, Betha introduced his good friend to the Notorious B.I.G. and Cam earned his own record deal.

Cam’Ron’s star began to rise in 1998. However, after recording a song hymn called “Horse and Carriage,” the former Manhattan Center teammates had a falling out over money and Puerto Rican Judo (Oh, jou don’t know what that is?). 

Cam’Ron didn’t have any follow-ups as big “Horse and Carriage;” and it seemed as if he could have possibly faded into obscurity. Betha not only made an attempt to bury the hatchet with his friend, he wished him well, and prophesied as well. 

Cam got money again. If people never get a shot at a first impression, Killa was the exception. He rapped incredibly well, showed the world that real mean wear and drive pink, ushered in one of the most revered crews in the Diplomats, gave Bill O’Reilly his greatest interview, told 60 Minutes he would move and not snitch if he lived next door to a serial killer, and as he pointed out in a confrontation with Betha, made $140 million in Sizzurp aka Manischewitz for the hood.

The two gents had a love/hate relationship. While their paths have separated, the two will forever be linked to each other. For every falling out on social media, there is a report of the two playing basketball or something like that. Cam’Ron even reciprocated Betha’s ministry with the last song on his Purple Haze album, “Take Em to Church.” Many thought the song was a diss; but it was a friend telling his other friend “I love you brother, please take these lost souls to church.”

The powerful lesson in this is to always speak life into others. There are many friends, family, and constituents I wish the best of luck to that I wouldn’t have too much to say in person. It may be best to love them from afar; but always keep them close to your heart.

My Favorite Editor

About three months into my tenure at Madamenoire, I received an email that instructed me to submit all pitches to their newest editor, Kweli Wright. I didn’t know anything about her. She was just a name in an email I couldn’t put a face to. It slowly changed.
In 2014, I was broke and writing was all I had. I constantly dug deep to write any and everything for my “Chad gets paid a little more than other freelancers as the dad-writer.” If Kweli Wright pitched a story out to all of the writers, I responded within seconds; was determined to be her go-to-guy because I needed the money and the platform.

Months into working under Kweli Wright’s tutelage, she sent me a text message and asked if I had any previous editorial experience. I told her I hadn’t and she replied “Just asking. I wanted to pick your brain,” and that was it. She dropped in to plant a seed. Every few months, she would check in and check out just as quickly.

Kweli Wright was the first person to give me direction in the writing world. She saw something in me and nudged me towards the potential she saw. A lot of my success was because of Ms. Kweli Wright. I told her “You’re my mentor by default, now.”

When it comes to writing, I was-and still to some extent-my own worst enemy. I psyched myself out of applying for editorial positions, shied away from being too transparent, and at other times, just wanted to walk away from it all. Kweli Wright would say the right thing at the right time, knowing I needed the nudge. If I was worried about grammar, she’d say “You have editors for that.” Whenever I thought about full-time editor positions, “It’s much easier to edit others’ work than your own,” she’d retort. As far as walking away and needing a break; that’s another post in itself.

My trust in Kweli Wright developed into a genuine friendship. She too is a Sagittarius that understood-and encouraged-my need to explore the world all while being a voice of reason. I love to make fun of her for being a huge Beyondsay fan just because it’s one of the few things she breaks out of her calm demeanor and gets passionate about.

When Kweli Wright left Madamenoire, I left, too. That same week, she called to inform me that she was focusing on her own site. Knowing what she was capable of, I anticipated the day it went live. The dates kept changing; but she wanted to make everything perfect and Monday was supposed to be the day.

“Where’s the site at, b” I texted her at 6:48 am on Tuesday. Kweli Wright told me she needed a little more time because she noticed a few things she wanted to change. I thought she was bullshitting and got preoccupied in Beyondsay dropping a new song…and I told her that.

Years of journalism (Everywhere), editing (Juicy Magazine), site launching (Global Grind and Madamenoire), digital content production (BET), and subliminal harassment (Singledadventures) have lead up to this moment: KweliWright.com is now live. 

Delving into a wide array of topics such as interior design, wellness, family, and entrepreneurship, the site is stylishly lifestyle…and I think it’s something hopefully you all will read it because she wrote it.

Kweli: I love ya and best success to you.

From One Single Father To Another: A Letter To Myself

​I didn’t remember what today was until Facebook reminded me. I have posted the same picture every morning and this year, it slipped my mind.
Five April 4th’s ago, I waltzed out of court with custody of my daughter. My mother-who had breast cancer-related surgery a week before-and I drove from New York to Virginia to disrupt the five months of Cydney living with her grandparents. That was the beginning of my happily ever after and the genesis of my adventures as a single dad.

It no longer feels like a big milestone; it’s been five years. A lot of the traumatic experiences and hardships that made 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 feel like a lifetime ago. Nonetheless, I do feel like it is healthy to acknowledge that time; but keep it moving. 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. If we know where we are going, life would be no fun. However, it feels good to revisit old memories because one’s present is a culmination of past experiences. I’m sitting here asking myself if there was anything 31 year old Chad Milner could tell himself on April 4, 2012, what would that be? Fuck it…here goes nothing:

Ayo Chad,

If you could write me back, the first thing you should say is “Damn, you look good! Facial hair and all the weight off was the move.”

Anywho…You deserve how you’re feeling right now. While it is an uncertainty to us both, I believe Timile is smiling down on ya; shit, on both of us. Remember this feeling.
The reason I’m telling you to remember how you feel at this very moment is because the most important advice I can give you is to treat all victories-big and small-like right now. Not only will that keep you sane, it’ll become part of the charm that’ll continue to bring you good fortune. You attract what you currently are; so gratefulness will bear greatness.

All of these years of writing are finally going to pay off. You have spent almost all of your life writing music, only to feel lost, some resentment towards Timile for the decision, and all that shit, b. It will not be for naught. You have been developing a unique voice and people around the world will “Read it because I-we-wrote it.” Hell, all of that arguing with Timile and losing badly will turn into an asset because you will always stick to your point and back everything up.

You will spend a lot of time alone. Debt will rack up and you will be hustling continuously; but don’t let that stress you out. I know how you feel about being along, especially after we’ve been through. Look at it as well-spent time reflecting. I’m not going to tell you to not smoke because as backwards as it may sound, it’s a cathartic breathing exercise and many of your greatest ideas will come while exhaling poison. You’re going to quit, anyways.

For the first five years, December 9th -the day Timile died-won’t be a good day. Not because you will be sad; but that will be the day everyone will unconsciously deem “Let’s push Chad to his limits.” I’m not even going to tell you to shrug that shit off. Get mad and put that bass in your voice; people need to see that you’re human. As much as people will fuck with you that day, they will understand.

Do a better job at being human. Our experiences have toughened us; but you need to let people in a little more. Most of your articulating how you feel will be through text; but it will make you a better writer and readers will be able to feel you. Everything works out for a reason.

Life is going to get really interesting. What most people think is beyond crazy will just be another day for you. Nothing will ever be too hurtful that you can’t find the humor in it. You will find yourself getting closer to God through your shared twisted and ironic humor.

There will be women…lots of them. But hey, what’s the first word of your brand and site? Single. That shit is going to be lots of fun and a shit ton of drama. Believe it or not, you will learn the most about yourself in these five years through the ones you date. You will fall in love, you will have your heart broken, you will break hearts, you will piss a lot of people off and all of that. No matter what, remember this: whether it’s one date or a lifetime, do your best to treat them how you’d want someone to treat Cydney. In fact, they are all “Cydney” to someone.

Speaking of Cydney, that little girl right there is something else. She’s a wrecking ball. She is you and Timile if y’all had a baby and that’s entertainingly scary. She’s smart. She pays attention to every little thing you do because she will follow you everywhere you go. She’ll be your good luck charm.

Cydney will require a lot of patience. The amount of physical, mental, and spiritual endurance she will require will really make a man out of you. As much as you’re raising her, she’s raising you. Five years later, I’m still wondering what is God’s reason for the amount of fortitude this little girl requires. But you’ve been built and primed for it.

Also, your nephew is watching you. You are the day-to-day male role model for him. You’re going to be hard on him; almost too hard. But fuck it, everyone else is kind of soft and lets him get away with murder. Just keep him from being too smart for his own good. 

You have to let him win sometimes. Nah, fuck that. Actually, no you do. He’ll need that to boost his confidence because he is looking at you right now like “I want to be just like my uncle.” It’s kind of scary because you’re not used to dealing with kids that are his age. It’ll be all good, though. 

Get some words of wisdom from your grandmothers. They are going to understand you more than anyone else will. Stine won’t be around for much longer; but she’s gonna plant some seeds. Connie is still here and is about to be 90…she’s living proof of what life is all about. Talk to Donnell Tyler at least once a week. He’s going to hold you down until 2015. He goes, too; but goddamn it’ll be time well spent.

Live like tomorrow isn’t promised. That is no longer just some phrase to you; it is now applied knowledge. We have no regrets about Timile passing away because we let her know how we felt. Do that shit with everyone, yo. Everyone ain’t gonna do it back but that’s not why we do it.

Take joy in the little things. Annoy Cydney and Courtney because that shit is fun. Work on music with your dad. Your mother can’t take a joke; but keep teasing her. Clean up around the house a little more…that’s her love language. Don’t write your sister off; while you are twins, you have your own paths to walk and hers is glorious.

Don’t sweat the little shit because it’ll turn into big shit and because shit is real, we don’t need any more shit. Stop forgetting all of the little logistical things…

I think that’s all I got for you right now. Yep…no formal closing because you’re me and I’m you, so you know what it is.

There’s no need to right any wrongs; they’re all a part of the process.

Oh…things are going to get really interesting in about a year. Your greatest story begins April 2013. You’ll just know.

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Moses, Aaron, and Blinky Blink

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e. This week’s installment is a day late but never a dollar short.
“Now Angelica’s the one with all the exposure. Dil is the one who drop in the stroller. Tommy got the whole world on his shoulders. And Dil cries to sleep ’til his eyes get bleak. I couldn’t be Chuckie, Chuckie to petro[fied]. Chuckie get scared, Chuckie says “Let’s go.” If I was a Rugrat, it would’ve been so real. Me and my twin would’ve been just like Phil and Lil.”

By the fall of 1998, Mason Betha’s platform for had him sitting on top of the world. He even wrote a song about it (That’s for another devotional). Many top acts of the time solicited the good reverend and his ministry of self-love, self-awareness, and prosperity to magnify their own music.  

Somewhere between promoting his debut album and Harlem shaking the sophomore jinx with Double Up, Mase was going through a rough time. His first album had sold four million copies and his flame burned white hot. When mo’ money lead to mo’ problems, the Bad Boy found difficulty listening to his inner voice and preach.

In the middle of penning a piece about following man-made religions vs relationships with God called “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” Mason received a phone call that changed everything. Legendary producer Teddy Riley solicited Rev. Betha’s services on for a song on the soundtrack to Nickelodeon’s full-length biopic, Rugrats, the Movie. Unsure of his own capabilities, Mase agreed to participate under the condition that his childhood friend, Blinky Blink gets to share the spotlight.

As he drove a car shaped like Reptar the dinosaur, Betha dropped the loaded gem mentioned at the beginning of this post. On the surface, it seems as if he is rapping about the characters of the film; he is referring to himself and how we all are Rugrats.

While he confidently sang, danced, and refused to keep his eyes on the road, Mase felt like Chucky. He was scared and needed inspiration; a Tommy so to speak. He remembered the story of Moses who was afraid to face the Pharaoh and free his people on his own. To boost his confidence, God sent Moses’ brother as accompaniment and the rest is history. In that moment, Blinky Blink was the Tommy to Mase’s Chucky/the Aaron to his Moses.

Being a little transparent, I related to Mase’s words. Had life been a little different, he and his twin sister, Stason Betha. For those who are familiar with the Rugrats chronicles, fraternal twins Phil and Lil did everything together; but fought like cats and dogs. 

Being a twin can make for an interesting dynamic. The phrase “Born alone, die alone,” doesn’t apply to us (I too have a twin sister). Sometimes this can cause difficulty in one finding their own voice and ultimately having more “Chucky” moments than others. 

Mase was so overwhelmed by the sheer mention of the Lil to his Phil, Blinky Blink immediately jumped in to let him know “You’re my little brother that I’ll run wit’.” 

Whenever we step out on faith, God always sends a Blinky Blink. Who is your Blinky Blink?

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Book of Life After Death, Chapter 10

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.

“Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie.”

Prosperity preachers often get a bad rap. The public perceive them as pompous and pious people who pillage Peter to pay themselves. Most miss the undercurrent of humility and thankfulness in their message. Ma$e is an expert propagator of this narrative.

Rev. Betha grew tired of speaking as a gun-toting product of his environment. His contribution to 112’s ode to showing one’s woman love the way God loves us all, “Only You (Bad Boy Remix),” aka “Songs of Solomon, 1996,” garnered the young man a clear path to success.

Spending time with a different crowd, M-A-Dollar Sign-E felt compelled to explain the entrapment of success with the world on a song called “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” The newcomer felt obligated to expound on modesty and servant leadership.

Had Cuda not schooled Mase to the game, he would not have known his duty. At 19 years old, the good reverend was “mostly Dolce down to the tube socks” because God sent Cuda Love to guide him.

The most salient advice Mr. Love had for his protégé  was given in one incomplete sentence: Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie. The seven-word parable was layered with information. There was a fictional tale about a black man who made country and rock music named Darius Rucker from South Carolina.

In this tall tale, Rucker was the lead singer of a band called the Blowfish. They toured the southern states of America playing to audiences that loved his music; but wasn’t too fond of the pigment of his skin. The racist crowds disliked Darius but loved his music so much. To get under his skin, these audiences referred to him as “Hootie,” a derogatory term for disgraceful music that originated with Bell BivDeVoe’s second album, Hootie Mack.

Rucker took the high road by “staying low.” He already stood out like a sore thumb as the one black guy everywhere he went; but the music was most important. Instead of making a fuss, he quietly changed the name of the quartet to Hootie and the Blowfish. They sold millions of records and whenever they asked if Darius was Hootie, he’d say “That’s just a name for the band.” Once again, this is all folklore…Charlie Pride and Nelly were the only two black people that made country music.

Ma$e told the world he never would have made it without mentorship and humility. Yes, he danced in tunnels, threw his Rolex in the sky and waived it side to side; but he was still the same ol’ pimp with a changed limp. Scholars have argued the Harlemite’s limp was because he too wrestled with God like Jacob in the book of Genesis; but that’s for another devotional.

We all need and have Cuda’s in our lives. They are the proverbial villages that raise us, tell us right from wrong, and give us guidance we often miss when directly displayed from the divine. Nelly too listened to Cuda’s fable of Hootie and the Blowfish; it worked out very well for him.