This trip may turn out to be a turning point in my relationship with my mother. I've always tried to be patient with her issues, but as it turns out, the ability to put myself in a different zip code is a big part of why that's possible. Being stuck at her side for 91 hours straight brought me to the breaking point, and I'm not sure where I want to go from here.
Imagine being stuck in a car with a petulant toddler. Now imagine not being able to override any of that toddler's choices/whims, and not being able to convince them to change their mind. Further imagine that the toddler is in charge of the money for the trip, and you have no other way to acquire food, fuel, or lodgings without the toddler's consent.
There was a point in Pennsylvania (over halfway home) where things very nearly came to blows and I had to take a walk to calm myself down. Her constant complaining, the temper tantrums over any little discomfort, the micro-managing, it all got on my very last nerve, and I found myself shouting at her and seriously thinking about taking a taxi to the nearest Greyhound station and abandoning her to make her own way home with the rental car.
In the end, my sense of duty (and not wanting to spend money on a bus ticket) won out, and I got us both home, but it was a near thing.
On the plus side, seeing my grandparents was wonderful. I got to spend some alone time with Grandma when we went out to buy plastic totes to pack things in, and seeing Grandpa in better shape than I'd feared was a relief. I'm hoping to get back down to see them (either by myself or with my sister) later in the year, but my finances need to be in better shape before I can drop $500 on a round-trip plane ticket.
I'm still coming down from the stress of the trip, so I'm not making any decisions just yet, but I have a feeling I'm going to put my relationship with Mom in time-out for a year or so, with the request that she do some specific work in therapy if she wants to keep me in her life. The choice she makes will tell me whether putting in more work on my end will be worth it or not.