Finding My Way … by Andrea Santo Felcone

Here’s a little known fact. I was supposed to be “Queen of the Corn Maze.” Or maybe my rightful title was going to be, “First Lady of the Corn Maze”? Or “Maid of the Maize Maze”? I’m not sure. My children were supposed to be heirs to a Corn Maze Empire; those little niblets–rolling in all of that cold, hard, corn cash. But it doesn’t matter now, because what could have been, alas, will never be.

Let me explain. You know how the longer you know your spouse/partner the more details he/she reveals about themselves? Sometimes, surprising details. Well, only just a few years ago, my husband revealed that he is the rightful–yet uncredited–inventor of the Corn Maze.corn maze

(I’ll pause while you take that in.)

Well, sure, I knew he had a Landscape Architecture degree and had all kinds of knowledge of plants–their species, their Latin names, which grow best under certain conditions, etc. But, what he had not yet disclosed (and maybe secretly harbored bitterness over) was that he was the original inventor of the Corn Maze (at least in the United States) and no one had ever acknowledged his achievement. Because, when, back in Landscape Architecture class “Blah, blah, blah” (my eyes usually glaze over at this point, was it “Deciduous Forest Trees?” or “Variegated Varieties?”), when someone asked what would be a fun, fresh idea for the old farmland donated to a neighboring town; he suggested creating a maze out of corn as a form of entertainment and extra money for the farmers. The response he was met with, well, it wasn’t pretty. He was laughed at, derided, and he was told, (and I quote),

“No one would EVER cut corn that way.”

And yet, here we are in 2017, at summer’s last gasp, and in just a matter of weeks, we’ll be at the height of “Autumn Festival Season”. And in every autumn festival, center stage, there stands the ubiquitous Corn Maze. Mocking him. Mocking us. Each time someone plunks down some cold hard cash to attend a festival featuring a corn maze, it’s yet another painful reminder of what could’ve been. Because I can assure you, no royalty check arrives in our mailbox, as it must for whomever was actually credited–“U.S. Corn Maze Inventor Genius” (yes, this is the official title).

As for the silver lining, each time a child gets completely lost and needs to be airlifted out of a corn maze; we are not at fault. Each time a grown adult has a panic attack amidst the corn…. All they really wanted was 10 active corn-maze minutes—as a form of “exercise”–a way to justify eating that stack of apple cider donuts they’d been eyeing–and now they cannot find their way out of this horrific maze…. Well, that isn’t my fault, nor my husband’s. So, there’s an upside. I’m fairly certain we will never be named in a “corn maze lawsuit” (fairly certain—life can be unpredictable).

But, what’s the bigger picture here? The bigger picture is there will always be the “naysayer”. There will always be someone in the “No one would EVER cut corn that way” camp. There will always be someone standing in the path of your dreams—even if that dream, in this case, is a complicated labyrinth made entirely from a starchy vegetable.

So, before the official corn maze season hits in earnest, this is as good a time as any to remind myself of the naysayers and an additional kind of autumnal maze. The maze of confusion I will find myself in, just after the kids settle into their new school routines, and right before my new routine starts. Because as the kids get older, I find myself a mythological creature: part stay-at-home mom, part working mom.

So each school year, I reinvent myself, anew. Mainly because the work I seek is work derived through personal creativity—work that changes, grows, challenges, and hopefully multiplies. I’ve never carved out an actual corn maze, but I can tell you–carving out a creative life can be exhausting, depressing, depleting, and lonely. But it can also be rejuvenating, exhilarating, and life-affirming. It can seem like the hardest thing in the world, but the older I get, the more essential it seems. Creativity, for me, is the only thing calling. Sometimes it’s calling in the middle of the night, sometimes it’s in the wee hours of morning, but its call is getting louder, harder to ignore.

The transition from stay-at-home mom to working mom can bewilder the best of us. I have seen many a friend grapple with, and struggle through, this time of life, and I have an excellent view as I’m right there in the thick of it with them. When you’ve logged as many stay-at-home mom years as I have, and then you try to regain a footing in the world of paid work, it can be tough going.

You only need to look into your children’s faces to see—the bar is high—what could possibly occupy my days that could compare to my time with them?  

But, I’ll do my best to plant creative seeds and see what develops. As sure as I’m sitting here writing this, I know, there will be mornings when I’ll return to an empty house and have to face myself. When I come home to me. Because as difficult as winding your way through a self-made maze can be, trying to decide which way to turn for personal fulfillment and profit, I have found that the open spaces are the hardest to navigate. Because there in the middle, sits the wide open field of self-doubt. This is where the maze, ironically, is at its thickest. There’s no distraction in the open field. You have to ask yourself the difficult questions and face the answers.

What do I want–and more importantly–do I have it in me to make it happen?

Do I have it in me to ignore the “No one would EVER ….” people? Do I have it in me to push ahead and plow through? I hope so. I truly hope so because as I stare out into the waving rows of corn (in my mind’s eye), I can almost taste how sweet this year’s crop will be.

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  1. 8 Responses to “Finding My Way … by Andrea Santo Felcone”

  2. Lovely piece!

    By Mary on Aug 16, 2017

  3. Wow Andrea! You could have been reading my mind with this one.its a tough road for us stay at home moms trying to find our place again. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone.

    By Cathy Dietze on Aug 17, 2017

  4. Thank you, Mary! Glad you enjoyed it.

    By Andrea Santo Felcone on Aug 17, 2017

  5. Cathy: Yes, it is tough, but there are many of us out there trying to find our place again (perfectly worded) and you are definitely not alone. Thanks for reading!

    By Andrea Santo Felcone on Aug 17, 2017

  6. “A mythological creature…part stay at home mom…part working mom”
    I love this post.
    Some much resonates! I think my favorite is
    “You only need to look into your children’s faces to see—the bar is high—what could possibly occupy my days that could compare to my time with them?” Brilliant.
    Thank you for this, I hear your wonderful voice loud and clear, keep putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard as the case may be now.

    By Shelly Wyand on Aug 17, 2017

  7. What a beautiful piece, Andrea. Even this week I find myself grappling with these very issues. I’ll meet you in the maze. Maybe we can have a cup of coffee in an open spot.

    By Paula Cohen-Martin on Aug 17, 2017

  8. Hi A! What a great piece! It really hit home for me.
    It has been almost a year and I’m still grappling and struggling through the maze. Sometimes, in my moments of doubt I think maybe I should’ve waited until the kids graduated college but, in my moments of triumph, words of encouragement come from the same little people that I fear I’m abandoning. Ha! Take it one day at a time. You will be even more amazing than you already are.

    By Issa on Aug 18, 2017

  9. I love this piece! I am right there with you, trying to plow ahead and hoping I have it in me to accomplish what I set out to do. I think we are up to the challenge!!

    By Tara Griesing on Aug 19, 2017