And that’s when I realized….

“And that’s when I realized…” is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their realizations, both the comical and poignant. To submit to this series, please email me at  Today’s post is by Drema Drudge.  

Last night’s forecast was cloudy with a chance of rain. I knew it and remembered it clearly as this morning I located my sun tea jar (which says, rather redundantly, “sun tea” on it) and washed it thoroughly, cleaned the red lid and made sure it would fit snugly, and counted out four iced tea bags. I have been looking forward to making my first tea of the season for weeks.

More than once as I readied the jar I reminded myself that it was Going. To. Be. Cloudy.  As in, no sun. No sun, no tea. Or so I supposed, having never tested it before.  Why else would they call it sun tea if it didn’t require sun?

You might wonder at my insistent urge to make tea. For one thing, when I was growing up, summer was really Iced Tea Season. While my mom didn’t usually make sun tea, she bought what we called “cows” of iced tea, double gallons with a spout from the milk delivery truck (for some reason we had one of those, even though it was the late 1970’s) and the summer was nothing without a colorful aluminum cupful of the sweetened beverage.

The other reason I wanted the tea so much was that my beverage choices on my healthier eating/drinking plan are water, almond milk, hot tea, and, of course, iced tea with stevia. Iced tea for the win, please!

So I put the sun tea jar behind the house due to my and my husband, Barry’s, new paranoia, revealed during a conversation last summer that went like this: “You know that iced tea jar on the stoop?  Someone could come by and put something in it.” “I know.  I was thinking the same thing,” he said.  This is only one reason why we are so good together: dueting paranoia.

After I “hid” the tea, I turned on my running music and hit the road.  (I love how I slipped that running reference in as if I have been running for years instead of mere months.)

While running, I laughed at myself for putting out sun tea on a cloudy day. That’s when I realized why I put it out. When I was younger I was a naïve, totally optimistic person, although my life circumstances didn’t really merit it. My father suffered a long period of unemployment, and I grew up without (at various times) running water, electricity, a telephone, a TV, or a car.  We usually had enough food, but not always. Because my childhood was not storybook perfect, I was determined to wrestle it into a Cinderella-like fairytale. In Sixth Grade (I think it was) I created a Social Studies Fair project that I titled “How to Have Fun without Spending Any Money.” A local newspaper columnist wrote about my project and how touched she was by my lack of material-mindedness. Her approbation, of course, entrenched these ideas in me.

Do I even need to say I was a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books? Laura’s harsh life made me feel just the teensiest bit better about mine. All romantic books, not just hers, became the template for me of what my life would and should become. I repainted everything about my life. 

When I married, my poor husband couldn’t, of course, begin to live up to all of the expectations I had of him, of marriage. Marriage was supposed to right every wrong that had ever been done me.  I was never going to feel lonely or inferior again.

My expectations were no better when it came to children. Having avidly read the Anne of Green Gables series, not to mention watching Annie over and over again, is it any wonder that I wanted to start an orphanage? I didn’t, but since my parents had fostered children, my husband Barry and I decided to try fostering before making any larger commitments. 

Children just need love and a home, right? They need people to commit to them and they will transform into grateful, well-behaved beings, right? Not if they haven’t been able to trust. Ever.  Somehow the lovely books I’d read skipped over those parts. Eventually I lost my optimism and naiveté. I surrendered to the darkness out of which I seemed to be continually trying to pull others. I call it disillusionment, while others may just call it growing up and seeing the world for what it really is.

But making sun tea on a cloudy day?  On my run that’s when I realized…the old Drema would have made sun tea on a cloudy day…and fully expected it to brew! And you know what? It did. 

The old “me” is not fully back, and I wouldn’t want her to be. Unrealistic expectations are a breeding ground for frustration and disillusionment.  That’s not to say I don’t miss being so completely convinced that life will turn out the way I want it to, that all will be well and that those I love will love me in the way I want to be loved.

But making sun tea on a cloudy day? It’s a start.

Drema Drudge is an MFA student with Spalding University. She’s also a wife and the mother of two children and one fish.  Drema has been most recently published in Penumbra, The Louisville Review, Mused, and ATG. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She blogs at:

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  1. This is fabulous, Drema. As a raving admirer of your writing, I’m also an admirer of your honesty. You put youself out there in the most vulnerable, most beautiful of ways and it is inspiring. Thank you!

  2. Wonderful, Drema!! Thank you for this. The days have been a bit cloudy here lately. Perhaps I’ll go make some tea, like I would have, once upon a time.
    You’re awesome. For realsies.

  3. Anna, thank you so much. From a stellar writer like you, it means even more. Your guest post challenged me to be even more honest, so I owe it somewhat to you. It is such an honor to be guest blogging here! 🙂 Kate is amazing, too. Im in such good company.

  4. *I’m.

  5. Love it, get it, I was with you the whole way. Thanks, Drema!

  6. Cara, thank you so much. It’s nice to feel understood. Thanks for reading, too. 🙂

  7. Loved your post, Drema 🙂 Really nice. (I’ve been there with the foster kids, too)

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