So why, exactly, do we think we need to bow down and kiss the floor if we're less than perfect or if we're seeking some kind of advantage for ourselves? Is it because, as women, we're raised to think we're supposed to sacrifice things instead of demanding things? Is it because we think we're supposed to fade into the background and not draw attention to ourselves? Is it because we think if we ask for something, we're troubling someone else?
I'm not sure that the answers are the same for everyone. But I do think there are some other important things you shouldn't have to apologize for:
Asking for time off or alternative work arrangements, especially when it concerns your family. Sometimes, especially if your needs are pregnancy-related, you might have to tell your boss exactly why you'll be gone and for how long. But most of the time, if you want time off to watch your child's ball game or if you want an earlier work schedule, it makes more sense to explain to your boss how your work will be affected (and how you'll help make this less of a headache for your boss), and not to list all the heart-wrenching reasons he or she should accommodate you.
Your decisions. You don't have to apologize for working, for choosing your workplace as your place of employment, or any other decisions you've made. You've put a lot of thought into your decisions, and engaging in mommy-war arguments or gendered-assumption disputes could leave you feeling guilty for doing your best. By all means, defend yourself if necessary, but in most cases, "I'm doing what works best for me and my family" is enough.
Old mistakes. I'm not saying you shouldn't take responsibility and fix errors you've caused, but once you do, let it go. You may find that others want to continue blaming you, even when they were partially to blame or when you've already done your best to make amends. They may think that blaming you makes them look better, but they're wrong. Every situation is different, so you'll have to judge the best course of action in these situations, but don't accept blame that doesn't belong to you. And, as a corollary, don't be shy about taking credit for something you did well.
I believe that when Jesus taught we should love our neighbors as ourselves, he meant we should seek to promote the interests of both other people and ourselves. That's good news--we can stop feeling guilty and second-guessing ourselves if we remember to look out for our own well-being.
What do you think women should stop apologizing for?