The first time I drove by Sweet Frog in all its bubble-gum-pink and lime-green glory, my girly-girl radar let off a loud bleep – a rare occurrence since I’ve never been a girly-girl. (As a child I wanted nothing more than the ability to pee outside, standing up. If you don’t believe me, ask my mom – the proof is in the Polaroid.) Nevertheless, Sweet Frog’s combination of bright paint colors, trendy paper lanterns, and high-fructose frozen-yogurt treats proved irresistible to the little girl trapped inside this woman’s body.
I took my oldest daughter along on the inaugural visit, and together we reveled in make-your-own-sundae deliciousness. Under the pretense of “Mommy date” I proceeded to introduce each of my children to Sweet Frog over the next three weeks.
Shrinking wallet and ballooning love handles notwithstanding, this indulgence resulted in a valuable life lesson. My son Liam was with me when it happened, watching in fascination as I filled my dish with multiple fro-yo flavors and topped them with a wild combination of candies, cookies, nuts, syrups, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Deciding a maraschino cherry would add the perfect final touch, I slipped back in line, leaned over to scoop one from the dish, and spilled my entire sundae into the toppings trays.
Mortified, I instinctively began scooping the mess back into my dish while the cashier/toppings maintenance girl watched in frozen horror. Liam, at the tender age of six, exhibited early signs of my-mom-is-so-lame adolescence by shuffling toward the exit as if he’d never seen me before. “I’m sorry! I’m sooo sorry, I don’t know how I did that!” I kept saying. I waited for someone in the ridiculously long line behind me to say, “How? You’re a glutton, that’s how.”
Embarrassing though it was, the experience did make me think a little harder about what I put in my dish. I’d overfilled it, that was obvious. Even after I’d escaped the hot seat and found a dark corner in which to hide with Liam, I didn’t enjoy the excessive blend of sweets. There was too much going on in the mix – peanut butter yogurt, crumbled Oreos, a few stray gummy bears that had hitched a ride during the unfortunate re-scooping incident. Flavors that would have been pleasant on their own lost distinction all muddled together. My dish was a sugary, melting mess of overindulgence.
I took a Sweet Frog hiatus (for a week). The next time I walked through those doors I had a plan:
Modest swirl of peanut butter yogurt.
Dusting of crumbled Reese’s cups.
Dash of peanut butter sauce.
Hold dish upright in firm grip at all times.
Bam, done. It was fabulous. The flavors complimented one another. I didn’t make a mess. I walked away satisfied, not sick or humiliated. And that’s when I realized: Sweet Frog is like life.
There are so many great things out there. Things to do, to be, to try, to pursue. Individually, they’re great. But throw too much in the same dish/life and what happens? Peanut butter sauce in your peppermint patties.
A few years ago my dish was overflowing with wonderful things: being a mom, helping friends, volunteering at church, building a business, renovating our home. I didn’t realize how much I’d crammed in until I reached for the proverbial maraschino cherry and everything went bottoms up. My life spilled. I was a mess. At Sweet Frog we call it a dropped sundae; in real life it’s called a breakdown.
Putting myself back together meant letting go of everything. I had to rebuild one piece at a time. What did I learn? The same thing Sweet Frog taught me: If you want a peanut butter life, limit yourself to things that compliment peanut butter. Keep it simple. Say no to good things that don’t blend well with your base flavor. In the end, the things you put in your dish should be better together than they are apart, not vice versa.
Thank you, Sweet Frog, for reminding me of a hard-learned lesson I was beginning to forget. And for your fabulous peanut butter sauce. You’re dreamy.