Being a CEO didn't quell her wish for a child, however, and she began considering adoption. She tracked down and talked to other single parents who had adopted children. She also spoke to her mother, sisters, brother and some cousins, with whom she is very close. "I was working very hard and had to think about the implications of adopting as a single working woman. I knew I was going to need a close support system," she says.Leaving aside the problematic aspects of expecting your newborn twins to provide support and companionship to each other because mommy's too busy working to be there, this seems to me a prime example of the trend of "outsourcing" motherhood. That's basically what women are doing when they put their kids into nine and ten hours a day of daycare or nannying. By giving up that much of your child's day to day existence, mothers are, for all intents and purposes, abdicating their responsibility over their child's personal and moral development in favor of whatever personal code the caregiver follows. What's most important to a person will come out in their interactions with others, and you can't expect that a childcare worker is not going to act on whatever values she holds to be true, whether it's Catholic teaching or a "dog-eat-dog" philosophy. And young children, who tend to accept what they are told by adults, and will also follow examples, soak that up.
She went ahead and started the process, and six years later she learned she would be adopting twin babies, a girl and boy, "a special blessing" she says "because they have each other." She had an interim management team take charge at Nielsen the day the twins were born and took a six-week maternity leave.
More than many working parents, she can afford a lot of help, including a live-in baby nurse. Still she says she has a "new appreciation" of employees who juggle work and family. "I thought I was busy before but this is a new definition," she says.
She limits breakfast meetings so she can be at home to feed her babies their morning bottles, and she returns home in time to give them their baths. She also tries to limit evening business events or schedules them after 7:30 when her children are usually asleep.
At work, she is delegating more and choosing between "what I can do and have to do," she says. But she stays connected to her staff 24/7. Over the holidays, which she spent with her family in Lake Geneva, Wis., where she was raised, she kept her BlackBerry on throughout.
She doesn't apologize for wanting to keep working. "It's a great time to be involved in a lot of initiatives I launched," she says.
I don't know why any woman who prizes her intelligence and education would abdicate her earliest and best chance to pass on her values and beliefs to her children. I don't see staying at home with my children as a waste of my education and talents, but rather as a chance to draw on that education to teach my daughters how to reason, how to make moral decisions, how to think well. How can I expect my children to accept and retain my religious beliefs if I don't take primary responsibility for passing them on?
There's no denying that staying at home with children can be a lonely and thankless job. That's why we have Jennifer to thank for creating Suburban CEO, a new site designed to help stay-at-home mothers maintain their sanity and find support from like-minded women. She offers some sharp insights on why it's so hard to be a stay-at-home mother today -- her analysis of the "Five Missing Pieces" is spot-on. Anyone who stays home with her children or is considering doing so should visit this site. After all, staying at home with our children is a great way to be involved with a lot of the initiatives we've launched, isn't it?