Root Bound

Warm spring weather and weeding seem to go hand in hand.

Stormy, wet weather last week left the ground soft and damp, more willing to let go of those weeds that seem to have grown from nothing.

I slip into my flip-flops and grab my weed bucket. The spring sun bounces off the white concrete patio out back, making me shade my eyes.

When I have a lot on my mind? I pull weeds. The physical activity helps me relax and it’s completely mindless. I can sort through issues, juggle solutions, and have imaginary conversations in my head with people I need to talk to.

As I move through each section of the yard I can see my progress. Beautiful plants with buds and shiny new leaves have room to show off now with the weeds gone.

It feels good to see that I’ve actually accomplished something.

Over near the rose bushes, growing right out of the gray landscaping rocks, I notice a huge weed, probably about four feet tall. I’m surprised I haven’t seen it from the kitchen window.

How could something grow so large without my noticing?

I kneel down, position my hands firmly around the base of the weed and pull.


Roots are deep on this one, winding way down into the rocks and crowding up against the piece of wood between the grass and the rocks.

There’s no more room for it to grow here.

I reposition my hands and twist the base around a bit, hoping to jar it loose from the rocks.


I move a few of the rocks that have roots coiled around them and dig my fingers deep into the soil to loosen this death-grip on the weed. The roots are soft and silky, and there seem to be hundreds of them.

I don’t want to pull too quickly and risk leaving some of the weed behind. A slow, even tug should do the trick.

And with a final pull, using my body as a balance, the soil gives up and lets the weed go.


One last glance around the yard before I gather my thoughts and tools and finish for the day.

As I head inside to start making dinner, I see the acceptance letter still sitting open on the counter.

Congratulations! It is with great pleasure we offer you admission for Fall 2011…..

My son has grown and flourished in our home, but to grow further he needs to make that next step.

His roots have grown and spread, pressing up against these four walls.

And I will try my hardest to yield to the pulling, to let him go.

It feels good to see that I’ve actually accomplished something.

These roots go deep.

But they can also bend.


  1. The Empress says:


    How do you do it?

    You kill me.

    You know, a good writer? One who can move you to tears.

    You do that to me.

  2. Bethany @ Organic Enchilada says:

    Such a good analogy, and so well written. You rock, sister.

  3. Jessica says:

    I thought this post was only going to be about weeds in the backyard. Congratulations to your son for getting accepted into college, I hope he got into the school that he wanted.

  4. Wow. I loved this post! And congrats to your son for getting accepted!

  5. Heather says:

    Great comparison.
    I hope he has a great time at college…and learns something too!

  6. You have a gift girl. That was just beautiful. Congrats to you mom for giving him such great roots.

  7. Sluiter Nation says:

    Oh Sherri.

    This post took my breath away.

    It is so hard and so calming to read. at the same time. if that makes sense.

    After this post, I close my eyes and imagine letting Eddie go and usually tears threaten.

    That is the kind of writer you are, Sherri.

    You put me in your shoes.

    The best thing about deep roots? It means there is always somewhere to go back to. You have given him a real gift.

    And congrats to him for the acceptance letter.

    And congrats to you for the acceptance.

  8. Sherri, I'm getting ready to plant my sprout this August and you are dealing with colleges and – essentially – adults! I have so much to learn from you!

  9. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) says:

    I love this analogy…perfect. Congratulations to your son, and to you! Enjoy this next journey…I can't wait to read about it. XO

  10. Jessica says:

    Sherri, I officially love everything you write. This is such a perfect piece. I can only imagine the bittersweet feelings of having your son accepted to college. You must be so proud.

    Beautiful post, your amazing mothering shines through in the accomplishments of your children.

  11. Mrs4444 says:

    This is fantastic. Thank you.

  12. I'm Jennifer. says:

    Again you wrote a post that I wanted to read over and over. You have indeed accomplished much!

  13. What I love about this post? I knew from the first words you were going to take me somewhere else.

    The soft, damp earth releasing the weeds more freely; the activity allowing your mind to relax into thought.

    I knew you were going somewhere and that I could come, too. I didn't know we would end up at such a beautiful place.

    Your writing is so deep, calm, peaceful. And you are so strong.

    I'm holding my breath for you as you work to let go.

    I'm right behind you, friend.

  14. Galit Breen says:

    Oh, Sherri! I want to celebrate the excitement and hug you to pieces for the tears that are sure to come with such big changes!

    Hooray for all of it- deep roots, big love, huge accomplishments, growth, change. All of it.

    This was beautifully written, poetry in action.

    Sob, sniffle. 🙂


  15. The Flying Chalupa says:

    Oh, Sherri, I love the image of you digging down and feeling the soil and seeing the hundreds of roots.

    Yes, your son is ready to transplant, isn't he? What a green thumb you have.

  16. Ann Imig says:

    Really beautiful.

  17. First time on your blog (via @mommy_pants)

    Love your writing…and the surprise analogy of the roots with your son leaving for college..

    I will be back!

  18. Sharon Cohen says:

    I expect to use this someday – your story as an object lesson. I was not that aware when my children – grown – prepared for departure. It would have served me well to have seen this then.

  19. You always make me think, cry, smile and hold on to my sprout tightly but with just enough slack. Thank you for the lovely gift of your words.

  20. Brittany {Mommy Words} says:

    What a gorgeous post. I thought you were going to take it somewhere else and I was so excited to hear the big news for your son! I will have so much more to think about as I pull weeds tomorrow.

  21. Dana @ Bungalow'56 says:

    But what if I like a weedy garden? What if I don't want to pull that weed out? Thankfully I have a few more years to learn how to be as wise a gardener as you.

  22. Hi there, great post! My little one started college last fall…she headed south…came back…but will leave again…it is a process that is for sure…I am spending the day watching baseball and catching up on the blogs that I follow and seem to never have time for…Pinkim from TrulySimplyPink

  23. Mom Went Crazy says:

    Oh Sherri! This is such a great post. Congrats on getting one out of the house even though it's sort of a bittersweet moment. One less load of laundry!

  24. michelle says:

    here via Mrs 4444

    love this post

    will be coming back soon

  25. You are amazing! I love this analogy and can feel your love for your son and motherhood through your words.

    You are my inspiration. xoxo