The United States has seen a 250-percent increase in single-family households over the last 50 years. Eighty-six percent of those homes are run by single mothers. And while the perception about single fathers is that they’re a rarity, the truth is that over 7 million homes in the U.S. are currently run by single fathers.
“It’s not easy,” said Germantown resident Chris Manley, father to six-year-old Lucas. “Honestly, it’s a lot of work. I’m grateful to have a strong support system with my family, who step in to take care of [Lucas] when I need help.”
The 36-year-old won sole custody of Lucas after splitting from his mother in April of 2022. Chris supports his household by serving as a car salesman in Montgomery County. Cars have been a passion of his since he was a teenager and he has worked hard in his profession – rising from the parts department to earn employment in automotive sales at the age of 30. It’s a promotion his body has thanked him for.
“Bending over for extensive periods of time puts wear and tear on my back,” said Chris, whose spine has been compromised by degenerative discs in the lower lumbar.
After twice failing to see improvement through an epidural steroid treatment, Chris’ pain came to a head in May of 2020.
“I had a really bad sciatica flare up that landed me in the hospital,” he said, telling a story of crawling to his phone and dialing for an ambulance. “They gave me pain medicine to take home and I started to become addicted. It was just this feeling that it was becoming a little bit of a crutch – that I felt like I needed it. And that’s what scared me. Because I’ve known people who have died from opioid addiction and I’ve seen it turn for the worse. I just didn’t want that to be me.”
Chris’ driving inspiration was creating a good life for Lucas, a first-grader who loves SpiderMan, playing Legos and rooting alongside his father for their favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees. With Lucas in mind, Chris tossed out the remaining painkillers in his stash and chose to seek out a medical Cannabis card in July of 2020.
“I started smoking when I was in high school for a little bit and then I stopped,” he said. “Then I started back up again in my 20s, but I stopped again because I was paranoid about being caught as a young kid.”
Researching the benefits of the plant this time around, Chris found experience to be the best teacher. And the access to high-quality, medical-grade Cannabis? Well, that was just a bonus.
After sampling a variety of strains, he found the displeasure of a migraine could be removed by lighting up New York City Diesel. Following a decade of suffering world-halting headaches, Chris has found an anecdote.
“It’s my go-to strain,” said Chris, estimating that he experiences 12 migraines per month – two of which are often debilitating. “It just knocks [the migraine] out for me. My whole body feels like it’s wrapped up in a warm blanket.”
Medical Cannabis has allowed Chris to regain control of his life, allowing him to be a better employer, and more importantly, a loving father.
“It allows me to be more present with my boy,” he said. “There were times before I started using Cannabis when my sciatica would act up that I couldn’t even go outside with him for a walk in the neighborhood. Now I don’t have to worry about that. I can go on without pain.”
On “bad days” Chris travels down the road for a stop at Zen Leaf dispensary in Germantown, consulting with his favorite patient care specialist, Sam, who has greeted him since his inaugural visit.
“They all know me and all know my son at Zen Leaf,” said Chris, who has explained to Lucas that “Daddy is going to pick up his medicine.”
“I just want to lead by example for him,” he added. “I don’t want him to go down the same path that I’ve seen other people go down, and Cannabis helps me do that.”
Cannabis has also brought about a rise in Chris’ mental health. Physically, his lower back remains a source of low-grade inflammation. A morning intake of a 10mg 1:1 edible and a nightly joint session do their best to reduce that discomfort.
“My back is better today,” he said. “I just have to be careful of how I move my body, and make sure I stretch a little every morning and stretch before I go to sleep.”
After experiencing an improved quality of life, Chris advises other single parents to not allow the judgment of society to sway what should be an easy decision.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “God put it here for a reason. It’s an herb that has been used for centuries of time, healing many people along the way. Everyone comes [to Cannabis] for one reason – we’re all here to heal and get better.”