When I first started thinking about working while having kids, I really had to battle with myself. I felt as if I should somehow feel guilty for wanting to work because that somehow meant I didn't want to spend time with my kids. Yet I knew I wanted to do something outside of raising my children. So, I did. I started working. Slowly, and at a pace that was right for me, but I did it. I created a new normal that fit into the flow of my life and the needs of my children. I gave myself an outlet that made sense to me, and, over time, I learned to stop apologizing for being a working mom.

Being a working mom has taught me the value of not apologizing for the things that are important to me, like my career and who I am when I'm not with my kids. For way too long I felt guilty and ashamed for placing value and importance on my career, and then I felt even worse when I had to sacrifice moments with my kids in order to do something for my job. To this day, I love my work. I feel like it makes me a better woman, a better employee, a better business owner, and a better mom. Maybe that doesn't make me the picture-perfect mom, but perfection looks different depending on how you look at it.

Rarely do we ask men to apologize for the things they pursue outside of fatherhood, so why should we, as women, be held to a different standard? Working moms should be proud of having drive and passion to pursue a career while raising and supporting their families. I know I am. Matter of fact, there is nothing working moms should apologize for when it comes to their careers, mainly because being a working mom is not something worth apologizing over. I love my children just as strongly and as fiercely as any other parent. Day in and out, my kids see me chasing and creating new dreams. They've watched me become my own person. I don't want to apologize for that. They've seen first-hand what commitment and pride and hard work and sacrifice get you — and they're all tools they'll need when they get their own jobs. I won't apologize for showing them the benefits time and effort reap.

And I know I'm not alone. Here's what 17 other working moms had to say about the one thing they won't apologize for:

Nailah W., 31:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"My ambition and drive."

Alexandra B., 27:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"I won't apologize for loving working. Period."

Kira P., 31:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Letting my kids watch a whole lot of TV some days so I can get stuff done."

Mandey E., 31:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"As women we're supposed to apologize for everything, usually because of fear of judgment. There are things in life to apologize for, mainly being a jerk or letting people down. Anything else requires no apologies. We have to learn to stop being sorry for everything."

Holly R., 37:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Pursuing my own financial security apart from my husband."

Meghan L., 40:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Buying everything from the store for school functions. EVERYTHING."

Jenni B., 32:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Being on my phone and computer around my sons — even at parks. The fact that I can do my job via technology gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my kids, even if sometimes that means I am splitting my attention. Otherwise, I'd be sitting at a desk missing the time [we have together] in between those emails."

Jessie S., 32:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"A couple of things: Asking my husband to keep my son entertained while I work out in the early a.m. since it's the only time I can do it, and I need to make time for personal goals. (I am tired after I get home from work and I have to attend to/entertain to my small child, cook dinner, do my own homework, and about a million other things.) Second: Not having taken a year or two off after my son was born. Who can afford that? God bless you if you can, but my family needs my income, and I earn it."

Kate L., 31:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"I have my house cleaned twice a month and I love it. We sacrifice other things in our life to afford this one luxury and it makes room in for more quality time together. Between working full-time, commuting, cooking, and all the other day-to-day stuff (including general up-keep and cleaning), the last thing I want to do with my two days off is scrub my floors. I'd rather be outside with my family, or focusing on what I need to be a better mother and partner."

Astacia C., 38:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"[Taking a] vacation without [my] kids."

Anjeanette B., 34:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Having to leave work to care for my kids or [my] family; cutting back my schedule during school breaks to be available to my three sons; demanding more training at work to secure higher wages to survive during down times."

Erin C., 31:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"I don't apologize for putting myself first. Getting some personal time away from work and home to recharge mentally and physically is essential to me."

Christiana N., 32:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"I want my daughter to grow to be a strong woman. So I focus on leading by example, balancing work and home life. I won't apologize for choosing quality time versus quantity of time with my daughter."

Ravyn S., 30:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"My family, my work, and self-care comes first. Always. I won't ever apologize if I enjoy spending weekends with my little family. Friends have to understand that I'm deep into this season of my life. They're super important to me, but fostering my family's connection is number one right now."

Alice C., 32:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"Getting a cocktail at happy hour."

Monica W., 30:

Basheer Tome/Flickr

"A fifth cup of coffee."

Marie B., 34:

Courtesy of the individual featured

"That there is nothing wrong with having a stay-at-home dad — it doesn't mean he is lazy; in fact he is extremely hardworking."