John and I are in an easy space in our life, our marriage and our business. We are abundantly blessed with our children, Corissa and Tyler; two bonus children, Brennan and Brooke; and four grandchildren. I am surrounded by supportive siblings and countless cousins. Our family business, In Bloom Florist, has experienced recent, aggressive growth and we have a team of loyal employees who are driven with passion.
Honestly, this all feels like a fairytale.
I didn’t have a typical childhood. But, I was fortunate to be shepherded by instrumental women who invested in me and loved me like a mother.
My sisters have always been a strong foundation of support. This is such a simple sentence, but contains stories of pain, victory and everything in between. We decided in our early 20’s to have each other’s backs and always pursue one another. This was a life–altering shift in our thinking.
I also had at least four public school teachers who personally invested in me. In my heart. In my value. I am forever thankful to Mrs. Sczepanski, Mrs. Cunningham, Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Bowers. They all taught me lessons beyond our textbooks. I learned about friendships, the prospect of college and that kindness and grace matters – even when not noticed by the recipient.
And then there was Mrs. Sikes. She cared for me, fed me and loved me like a mother. She allowed me to join in her family’s traditions and participate as if I were one of her offspring. At the end of her life, she beckoned me to come to her to say goodbye. When I arrived, I found myself among only her children and grandchildren. I was awed by this sense of inclusion into her tribe and will forever be grateful to have her as a mother figure.
Next? John’s mom, Mary, came along and illustrated what it means to just show up. She came to all of our kid’s events. Softball, Baseball, Band, Swimming, Birthday Parties and Soccer Games. When she passed away in 2011, we found a drawer of programs she kept for every event in which our children participated. She loved well. And she loved me.
There were lady bosses, lady peers and lady subordinates who challenged me. They challenged my self-worth. They challenged my ability to stand up for their self-worth. They motivated me to invest and care for my future and their future. I have found that my success isn’t dependent on me. It’s dependent on my investment of loving those who came before me and will come after me.
I want my legacy to be that I invested in others and loved them well. I want my children’s hearts to be so full of love that it pours out of them and drenches the souls of those with whom they come in contact. I want them to love like a mother.
From Corissa Jones
(Sally & John’s Daughter)
Even from the beginning it was messy.
Intense morning sickness. Like getting sick fifty times a day. Popped blood vessels, and eye whites turned red. Definitely not the glamorous start to motherhood I had once dreamed of. Little did I realize that it would just get more and more messy.
Now, four years and three children later, I can attest to the fact that motherhood is just that. Scraped knees and elbows. Blowouts. Sibling rivalry. Bloody lips. Hurt feelings. Being called out by a four year old (he was right). Getting up three times a night. Permanent dirty ears. Loose teeth. Tantrums, usually at Target.
But just as the morning sickness was quickly followed by the kicks of little feet in my belly, so do all these messy things lead to such heart swelling moments with my children. Kisses on boo boos. Deep belly giggles. Conversations about kindness. Endless games of Monopoly Junior. A late night shared milkshake. Dance Parties. Apologies. Middle of the night snuggles. Family hugs. Celebrations. Looking back, I’ve realized it’s the mess that makes motherhood so grand. Without the mess, my attention would be elsewhere, and I would miss out on the moments. I am so grateful for the mess.
From Brooke Kobylinski
(Sally & John’s Daughter In-Law)
On April 17, 2015, I became a mother to my first daughter, Lennon Elizabeth. Leading up to Lennon’s birth, I was full of expectations and ideas of what being a mom would be like. There were so many things I hoped to teach and instill in her: to be strong, smart, wise, and above all, to know Jesus. What I didn’t expect was for her to be the one to open my eyes to countless beautiful things I neglected to discover or appreciate pre-motherhood.
My husband always said if we did have a girl, it would be because God wanted to soften me. I can certainly say that I have turned into quite the puddle. Lucky for me, I’m fortunate enough to have multiple great women invest in me and my life and guide me as a woman. My birth mother, although she did not raise me, would never neglect to remind me that I was beautiful, keeping me confident and secure in myself and my beauty. My grandma was always a great friend, and an enthusiastic instigator for my crazy imagination. My sister has been my safety and consistency throughout my life that that has taught me how to be the same for others. My adoptive mother taught me how to work hard, love fiercely, and to invest deeply into our loved ones. My mother-in-law has taught me how to love softly, and to love without ever looking for anything in return. I, as Lennon’s mother, get to be the primary person to guide her and mold her into the woman that God has called her to be.
As of now, my job as a mom is a bit simpler than I am sure it will come to be in the future. I have to keep her safe, keep her fed, and keep her feeling secure and loved. But in my eyes, motherhood as a whole is something so much greater. I have the privilege of being her consistency and comfort in this world of constant change, being the person she runs to when she is hurting, or is just in need of a friend. I get to teach her right from wrong. I get to show her how to embrace the strength of womanhood as well as its tenderness—how to love and experience a vast range of emotions and paths of life.
Most importantly, becoming a mother has helped me to understand the true joy of giving. Giving life, giving love, giving family, and giving my precious girl all of the things that I could possibly be able to give her. Sometimes it is being able to be intentional with giving her quality time. So often in our business it is easy to try to just complete our to-do list rushing through our days. I have found it so important to us to remember to give and invest in the areas that are important to us.
Being a mom, I now feel whole. It has made me feel the most me I have ever felt. Which is funny, because this last year I have given myself the least physical attention ever. Regardless, I’ve learned to be a more real me. A more selfless me. A more raw me. One of the greatest things I have learned is that my little human will not be perfect, and neither will I. She doesn’t need perfect, she needs me. And I don’t need perfect, I need her. And in that, she is the greatest teacher of grace in these early years as we learn and grow and love.
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