As a family with one married daughter and son-in-law, one newly engaged son in college and two teenagers still at home, it can be difficult finding activities to share as a family. Add to that being a frugal mom and the challenge is on!

Last fall I purchased a buy one get one free Groupon for the local corn maze in our area. Thinking I was being smart, I bought two deals, which provided me four tickets.  These were set aside for us and our younger two teenagers. I had already talked to our married daughter and she and her husband wanted to come. Not sure what I was thinking, but when Living Social came out with the same deal I bought two more deals (four more tickets). Knowing my son would be home for fall break, I now had a total of eight tickets. We invited his girlfriend to come stay with us so were set for a fall adventure to the corn maze!

I had seen pictures of the maze and understood the general idea. I had even thought through assuring each group had a cell phone (so the youngest two could have access if necessary) in case someone got lost. I even reminded everyone to wear tennis shoes and bring water. (I’m such a good scout leader. Not.) Telling everybody to wear sunscreen was way too much mothering though. What I didn’t think about was how long the actual maze was. Several miles as it turned out (depending on how lost you got).

It was a beautiful hot fall day. Can you picture it?

One husband promising not to complain at my crazy idea of family togetherness.
One married couple bickering (and it wasn’t mom and dad!)
One couple with a sick patient (my son home from college).
One person carting around a heavy camera (yeah, that was me).

After quick instructions from the tour guide there was a quick pair up at the start that left me with my youngest teenaged son. “Mr. Impatient/I will win if it kills me/oh no, I’ve got Mommy on my team” son is off to the races and I’m looking around to see where everybody went.

I didn’t even know you could get scared in a corn maze because I’m the “Rule Follower/Can’t possibly cheat and go through the cornstalks/Now I’m hyperventilating/Mom.” Really. There was a moment where I felt like the kid that had been left behind in a department store. So I hollered for my son and gave him a lecture talking to about working together as a team.

We proceeded into the maze and wandered around for a while until someone else told us a clue was around the corner. Oh, did I forget to tell you the object of the maze was to find clues at six different stations, allowing you to answer the riddle (something about somebody killing somebody and where? To be precise, it was a farm animal killed and you were supposed to find the weapon, the suspect and the location). Hmmm. Who cares? One guess. My son does and he’s on a pursuit to find every single clue.

Did I mention it was hot? And I’m way older than my youngest? Yes, we wandered around…….and around…….and around. We had four clues and I needed to rest. Or at least catch my breath.

Every other word out of son’s mouth was, “I know where we are. We’re not lost.”

Well, of course, son. There’s the map. Piece of cake.

It was all good until I committed the deadly sin.

I asked for help.

For my attachment challenged adopted son this is pretty close to treason. Kids that have a trauma background believe they don’t need any help, because they weren’t taken care of or had their needs met in their early months/years. Asking for help is a sign of weakness to them.

We had come to a point where the maze owners had employees stationed to guide people to clues or the way out. I asked for help while I was stopped, and my son got very mad at me. We had tense words with each other in the middle of a row of corn, which was compounded by the fact that I had received a call saying one of the other teams had finished first. I later found out they took a cellphone pic and were gathering clues by looking at the map on their phone (Hey, that was cheating!).

The great thing about this adventure for my youngest son and I? We worked through it. In the middle of the cornfield. I told him how tired I was and the fact that I was getting a migraine. He was upset that I didn’t tell him earlier because he would have slowed down and not been so anxious to win.

This is progress for us. Serious progress. I told him I was proud that he was able to work together as a team with me and if he would give me a moment we could get those last two clues.

God revealed some amazing lessons through our shared experience, and I believe they can apply to raising children, especially teenagers.

Here’s what I learned during our corn maze adventure:

Being a part of a team means leading at times and following at others. It can be difficult to think of your teenager as capable of being a leader, but let him prove that he is ready to accept that responsibility.

Asking for help may be humbling but often will be part of the solution. Model for your children the act of asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re a loser but instead allows you to know your strengths and weaknesses better.

Finishing the race can be just as important as winning. My son and I crossed the finish line together with a better attitude and relationship.

Time spent together is a reward in itself. Our immediate family unit no longer lives under the same roof so whatever the activity, time is a precious commodity and not to be taken for granted.

Letting go of control and letting your family into your heart is worth the struggle and pain. For my adopted children, this has been a journey of 13 years with both struggle and triumph. I am grateful for every single step forward they have made because I know it has been hard fought.

God gives us opportunities to learn through every single situation if we let Him. I learned even more than my son that day in the corn maze and the lessons will forever be etched in my memory.

Parenting, like running the race, requires an investment of time and heart, but it will yield rich blessings in the end.

marty waldenMarty Walden is passionate about sharing her life, faith, dreams and adventures as a DIY, crafty, bargain hunting, homeschooling, memory keeping mom of both biological and adopted children. You can connect with Marty through her blog Marty’s Musings, email, facebook, twitter, pinterest or google +.

Publication date: October 2, 2013