As a young, single dad, Doug Lawler’s focus was how to make the most of every moment with his daughter.
“I struggled with how to create a pseudo resemblance that this wasn’t just a man’s home. I got into the habit of buying fresh flowers every week,” the Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO said Tuesday at the Single Parent Support Network dinner. “So many times I’d walk by those flowers and say, ‘That’s $9 or that’s $10 and they’ll die in three days.’”
Lawler challenged participants at the Single Parents Support Network to look for those opportunities.
“What I would encourage you to do is buy the flowers, make the most of the moment,” he said.
Lawler was the keynote speaker and a Legacy Award recipient at the event.
Founded in 2010, the organization is designed to provide coaching, resources, educational and support services for single-parent families.
“It’s important to get the word out about single parents and the challenges they face and that we are all part of the solution,” said Rhonda Thomas, founder and executive director of the network.
“We know the problems that result from single parenting and the lack of support for single parents affect everyone. So it’s important that we get involved in supporting the cause of helping parents successfully raise their children.”
Lawler was a young petroleum engineer at Kerr-McGee Corp. when his wife of two years was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after their daughter was born 20 years ago.
“After two years of brain surgery, chemo and all the possible things to imagine and try, I had to explain to a 3-year-old little girl that her mommy had gone to heaven,” Lawler said.
Lawler then began his life as a single parent.
“The question I kept asking myself was how can I be the best dad I can be, how can I provide her the future she needs,” he said.
He found much of the answer in his faith.
“I knew I couldn’t do it. So on my knees, my prayer was that God would sustain me,” Lawler said. “My prayer was that he would help me do the best for her.”
It was essential to him that his daughter would look back on her childhood with fondness.
“I remembered my parents. I remembered their love and hope for a better future for me,” he said. “What was my daughter going to remember? A mad dad, a stressed dad, fear, frustration? Or was she going to remember happiness?”
With that mindset, Lawler determined to be strong and make the most of his time with his daughter, even after long days at the office.
Lawler has since remarried and has 8-year-old triplets, a 6-year old son and is expecting another daughter.
Lawler said the support he received from family, friends, his church, his company and his community was critical while he was a single dad.
“Everyone is facing challenges,” he said. “As we march through life together, we need that support. We have to support each other.”
He said he plans to be involved with the network in the future.
“It’s a huge need, and this is a very worthy organization,” he said.