This is the first school break we are spending with our sons, both home from college. I have noticed how different this feels from those school breaks when they were little and ten days in close proximity was not always happily anticipated.
As "older parents," we were hard pressed to find the energy to full-time parent our active sons when they were young. When they started school, we only had to muster energy for part of each day, so it was manageable. When the specter of 10 days at home together approached, I would panic. Snow for a few days, hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, some board games, cocoa, etc. - this was fun. After those few days, the kids were bored, complaints ensued and we all couldn't wait for school to start.
As they grew older and more independent, they entertained themselves with computers and friends, so time together was much more enjoyable (for my husband and I, anyway. As for the kids, there were periods they didn't want to be caught dead with us, which happily, they outgrew). Vacations were now less work for us as we didn't have to cater to constant meals and snacks. Yes, the good news was that they were growing up. That was also the bad news.
The dynamic this past summer vacation was different and wonderful. The boys each had a friend with them, so it was like a huge family; especially the one night we all shared with my sister and my two nieces. I treasured watching the boys in the kitchen fixing dinner together and serving us! The only thing to even hint at imperfection was that the time we had together was too short.
Then we had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin's house - like a sister and brother to me, my cousin and her husband have been close to us since the boys were born.
Now here we are at the holiday break and we have our younger son home for a full winter break. He and his friends have already been here jamming: drums and electric guitars shaking the rafters. Our older son is here for nine days, which is the longest we have been with him at one time, since he went back to college in Boston. He is cooking up a storm for us, for his friends and for Christmas dinner at my mother-in-law's house. Our grocery bill just quadrupled, I've gained 7 lbs. since he got here last weekend, and my kitchen is hostage to food preparation and its aftermath.
It is annoying? Yes. Does it feel intrusive? Yes. Is it wonderful? Oh, you can bet your life, it is!