So, next month, my gf and I are making a trip to my hometown to see my mother for her birthday. It'll be our first visit since she moved to her new house (longtime readers will recall I made several trips last spring/summer to help clear out & pack up the 40+ years of stuff in her old house), and she's excited to have us come and see the painting and remodeling she's had done. We, on the other hand, are less excited. She's a difficult person to deal with, and it takes a lot of energy just to be around her. I'm lucky my partner is coming with me, since she will serve as a good buffer for the nitpicking that invariably erupts when I see my mother. Though of course it has already started:
[Setting: on the phone earlier this evening. Background info: small college town where my mother lives is an hour away from the airport, and my mother is old enough that she doesn't really drive except for errands in town.]
Mel: so you got my email with the times of our flights?
Mother: Yes. I suppose you'll be getting a rental car? [said with withering scorn]
Mel: yes, that's the simplest thing.
Mother: but you'll only be here for a couple of days
Mel: well, we want to have the flexibility of having our own car
Mother: but what would you need to do?
Mel: you know, I want to go and see Steve and Mary while we're in town. And maybe we'll want to go out somewhere when you're busy.
Mother: I could arrange a ride for you from the airport with the people coming in for the festival my theatre group is putting on
Mel: no, I think we'll just get a rental car.
Mother: that's ridiculous.
Mel: it's only $40. It's what I've decided to do.
Mother: but you don't need to go anywhere.
Arrgghh. We go through this every single time I go to see her. It's infinitely easier and more efficient for me to get a rental car at the airport -- not to mention it's psychologically less damaging for me to be able to leave her house and go to a coffee shop or just drive around if I need to. Which I think deep down is precisely what bothers her. She'd much rather have us completely under her control, every minute of the day.
This makes the next two weeks of grading etc seem almost pleasant.