This last week of waiting for college acceptances is like the very end of a pregnancy. You know something good is going to happen; you know all the waiting will be worthwhile; you know there will be some pain involved, but mostly, you know it will be finished.

I have taken back all the scoffing I used to do at parents who describe this as stressful. Although my official policy on stress is that with a roof over my head, food on my table, and my family healthy and here, I have no business claiming to be stressed, this has been a stressful process. OK, wearing, anyway. And my husband has guided the whole process, intensely, as I continued with the things that make the house and family run.

When I was expecting Christopher, I wore my hair long. It's long again these days, funnily enough, and I found myself thinking of the linen bow I tied it back with as 1990 dawned.

I remember the first holiday that Chris and I spent alone, unable to travel because the baby would be arriving any day now. We still lived in New York; I put on my prettiest maternity dress, pulled my hair back into that bow, and we walked up Fifth Avenue to go have Easter brunch, passing all the people kitted out in so much more than hair bows in the Easter parade.

We loved being just the 2 and eight-and-a-half/ninths of us. My big belly bumped the table, and I touched it discreetly when I could, unable to imagine the wonder that would soon be part of our lives.

I find myself these days touching Christopher on the shoulder, on the arm, pulling all 6 feet of him into a hug when I can. He is happy. Senior year is concluding; he's gotten two acceptances from colleges where he'd be delighted to go. I repeat to anyone who asks that I am sure he'll end up exactly where he's supposed to be; that there are no wrong paths when you are just about to turn 18.

But like those final days of pregnancy, there's occasional, unexpected anxiety. I want him to be happy. My college years remain the greatest influence on my life; I want Christopher to have friends forever from his college years; to study harder than I ever did; to start down a path that he never regrets.

So, we wait. And trust. And hope. And pray. Mostly, we try to make this a prayer of thanks, that we are able to wait for the next giant step our child takes.

Please God, make it a step he's able to take successfully.


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