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Sarah Palin can have it all

I should know. I'm a writer and the mother of 12.

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The five children. The newborn diagnosed with Down syndrome. The pregnant daughter. Sarah Palin's life – chock full of challenge – confronts her opposition with some formidable challenges of its own. After decades of pushing equal rights and treatment for women, the Left is backtracking.

Suddenly motherhood – well, at least too much motherhood or too-complicated motherhood – is incompatible with executive responsibility. Fathers with little children or complex family issues – even some who cheated on their wives – have held office without having to justify their continuing careers. Yet women once again face a very different standard.

Who knew that beyond the glass ceiling feminists vowed to shatter there existed another barrier, imposed by feminists themselves? What happened to choice? To having it all? Have we had a paradigm shift since Aug. 29? What's to stop Governor Palin from doing it all?

This debate matters a lot to me. I have 12 children, including four diagnosed with Down syndrome. Three were adopted. I'm a professional writer. And yes, some people wonder how I do it all, or if I'm doing any of it as well as I should.

The skepticism about Palin's ability to juggle responsibilities has been punctuated with below-the-belt punches. My heart goes out to her and to every mom who soldiers on in the face of such flak. Sisterhood can be powerful, but only when we celebrate one another's accomplishments and growth – in all our diversity.

The hardworking mother rolling up her sleeves to tackle a "man's job" is a staple throughout American history and folklore. Think Rosie the Riveter. Think "Places in the Heart," featuring Sally Field as a Depression-era widow succeeding against all odds. These tales of women transformed through their work – even as they transformed the culture – resonate with me. As a second-wave feminist, I recall how we turned the medical establishment on its head over childbirth.

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