Work Ethic

Work ethic means different things to different people. Obviously. My parents didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in their mouths. Quite the opposite. Their parents’ generation experienced hardships around every corner. But, they did what they knew to do. Kept going. I watched my grandparents live with determination and honesty in every aspect of life. That included providing for their families.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Proverbs 12:11

My dad was self-employed. While the thought of ‘being your own boss’ sounds appealing, it isn’t easy but he did it well. Both of our parents demonstrated a positive work ethic. The four of them exhibited the above traits. That display trickled down to us.

I was blessed to be able to stay home once Jacob was born. My only employment outside of our home, before then, was with an insurance company in the Claims Department. When our second son was born I started teaching a few aerobic classes a week. I could either take the boys with me or I’d teach a night class after Mike got home from work. I did that until burn out struck and then found a new career. It was always great to be able to get paid while doing something I enjoyed.

We are in an interesting season of our lives. Retirement. Put in the time and now the time has come for a change of pace. When I think of retirement, I picture friends who are empty nesters. My mind goes to traveling for weeks on end. That doesn’t describe us and we won’t be traveling the globe. But we will find satisfaction, at a more relaxed pace, exploring new adventures.

Not going into the office, nor taking calls, and the work email account disabled, all those things have already proved to be a welcome respite. And, I think we’ll transition easier than most since we’ve worked from home for most of this year.

This is a blog about our autism journey. How did I get sidetracked talking about work ethic?

Working outside the home brought me pleasure, challenge, spending money, friendship, etc. But, let it be said that the most rewarding and by far the most important ‘job’ title I’ve held is Mom. Being a homemaker and mom to special needs, I often feel that my real work is never done. I won’t be retiring from that role.

When I was an Aerobic Instructor, the team did secret pals. In the reveal party one year, M.K., who had drawn my name, had written a poem. It was beautiful and touching. I won’t share the whole thing, but this part came to mind:

While tackling each endeavor she never forgets
To look to the heavens for the guidance that is sent.
This year has been trying with two special boys in her life.
One placed in a gifted program and the other gifted not once, but twice.
Yes, you should have guessed. Both boys gifted.
Because God searched for a mother as special as you to be uplifted.

I hope it is always evident that my guidance comes from the Lord above. Yes, I have learned from my grandparents, parents, family, and friends but ultimately my decisions need direction from God. I feel like an ordinary person who has been gifted with an extraordinary life. What a blessing to be lifted up in so many ways along the journey.

This poem speaks about Jacob’s brother being ruled eligible for the gifted program. I suppose every parent thinks (and should, to some degree) that their child is exceptional. Somehow, Josh had what it took to succeed. Hopefully our values, morals, beliefs, and work ethic trickled down to him, too. There is certainly nothing exceptional I can claim that I did in raising him. Other than to admit that he was sometimes left to his own devices because Jacob needed the attention. And here’s the crazy thing, at under 40 years of age, he retired the same time I did because his work ethic created a marketable business that others wanted. The only thing I can boast, is to proudly say, ‘that’s my boy!’

And, Jacob. Sweet Jacob, gifted twice means exceptional ability and disability. Gifted in some way but faces learning or developmental challenges. Gifts that some considered exceptional and others a disability. He was never ruled a savant but that doesn’t mean he has no skills. While there is disconnect in his brain, he has proved there is so much more to him than could be reflected in a test score. Unfortunately, nothing that we’ve found that could strengthen a work ethic. His major challenges kept him from interviewing for a job or pursuing work.

I think a retired life of luxury is more what he has in mind.

And, I’ll repeat with pride, ‘that’s my boy!’


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