I just submitted my Intent to Graduate card and I checked the "Participating in Commencement" box. If I were a single gal, then I would spend commencement at home, watching Little House on the Prairie reruns. But I'm not a single gal and I feel obliged to participate for my family's sake.
A good friend of mine vowed she would not participate in commencement; she had skipped her undergraduate one too. Three years ago, I watched her walk across the stage and accept her empty diploma cover. Later, I asked her why she had changed her mind. She told me getting her law degree took her away from her girls - she had four - and all they wanted was to see her accept her diploma. The pomp and circumstance, the robe and the tassels, the empty diploma cover - it made law school real to them. Finally, they understood why she was away from home so much and they looked forward to commencement because, for them, it signaled an end to the days of mom being away from home.*
It's the same for me. I will participate for my family. My family has sacrificed so much to get me to this point and I owe it to them to attend. Plus, I have been on this path for a while now and my girls, my mother, my aunties in Alabama, and my good friend who walked the stage for her girls would be so disappointed if I skipped this last educational rite of passage.
*My friend opened her own law firm shortly after graduation and she now employs four attorneys, three paralegals, and one legal secretary. She still works just as much as she always has.