Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
Chapter 1: The Quest to Conquer
I entered this realm a rather tiny baby. My mother, somewhat concerned, made several visits to the pediatrician who assured her that as an adult, I would be taller than my mom, barely five feet tall herself.
Thirty five years later I, quite literally, look up to my mother.
Growing up, my mom’s sixth sense caused her to suspect that I probably wouldn’t scale the 5-foot mark. Following these moments of avid maternal concern, she made me drink high-protein health shakes, advertised as the drink for “growing children.” My mom even bought a bar (as in, a ‘metal rod,’ not a ‘watering hole’) from which I was compelled to hang to supposedly stretch my limbs. Needless to say, little did all this paraphernalia aid in the quest to hit that seemingly insurmountable goal.
Chapter 2: The Reconciliation
Personally, I was blissfully unaware that my height posed any problems. As a child, my favorite song at church was “If I were a butterfly,” and I came in rather emphatically on the chorus, “But I just thank you Father for making me, ME.” When it came to Bible stories Zacchaeus, the “very little man,” was one of my super-heroes.
As I got older, I noticed that some found my pint-sized physique quite endearing.
Putting things in perspective, my options were quite clear: A) sue the previously-mentioned pediatrician or B) accept my height with a sense of humor. Since the former alternative was impractical, I reconciled to being 4’10” and discovered how to use my height to my advantage.
In my 20s, I was (almost) always amused to observe people’s “you must be kidding!” expressions when I told them I was a college student and not a precocious 12-year-old. Other perks included policemen offering to help me cross the road, airplane seats being quite roomy, NEVER having to worry if I’m blocking anyone’s view, and the biggie – buying clothes in the children’s department was perfect for a slim wallet.
Of course, I was teased mercilessly: From “Lilliput” to “How’s the weather down there?” jokes, I heard them all.
I remember my first day of work in food service as a college student trying to make ends meet. Within 15 minutes on the job, I was transferred to where customers would actually be able to see me behind the counter. And then there was the time when I was handed the kids’ menu at a restaurant – not the best meal plan for a graduate student trying to be taken seriously.
Still, the inventory of the advantages yielded a long-enough list.
Chapter 2: Yin and Yang
Now comes Part 2 of the story. About ten years ago, I fell in love with this guy I knew back at my church youth group – all six feet of him! He checked off everything on my list – and some things that weren’t. Like the fact that he was a high-jump champ back in high school. He once vaulted over a 5-foot bar. ‘Nuff said.
Nine years of marriage and two kids later, I still have him up there on a pedestal.
In the early months of our courtship, when I ran across a picture of one of Hollywood’s hottest couples with the same 1 foot 2 inch height difference as the hubs and I, my heart leaped for joy. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were unwittingly roped in to be my role models, at least when it came to posing for photographs. I could have done a doctoral thesis on the couple. Orders were dispatched across the high-seas to the husband, then long-distance love and fiancé, who was told in no uncertain terms to slant his shoulder at a 45-degree angle when we posed for pictures. It was to be a cool Will-Smith-like slant of the shoulder that he needed to replicate. When photos came in with him looking like he was having an acute case of dyspepsia, we gave that up.
While I go through phases when I agonize over my kids’ growth percentiles and pump them full of protein-rich food, I try to remind myself and them that only man looks at outward appearances. And my man liked what he saw (hehe!).
The long and the short of it is that the short of it can be challenging. It’s not the most fruitful experience to put makeup on in the ladies’ room only to have my forehead staring back at me from the mirror. It’s also a complete nightmare shopping for shoes. You guessed it: I have (proportionately) smaller size-5 feet. I comfort myself with the belief that in countries like China that would be a distinct asset. Around here, I’m familiar sight at the gym, my feet clad in sneakers purchased from the section where Dora the Explorer sets fashion trends.
Even though I’m always on heels – platform flip-flops on the beach can pose a serious challenge – and the husband has submitted to slouching every now and then, I’m not fooling anyone. At the end of the day, I’m a just a busy momma with more to do than fret over my height. Most often, you’ll find me driving a mini-van that practically swallows me up or pushing a grocery cart that I can barely see over. On other occasions you might discover me clambering up shelves at the grocery store to get to the chocolate chips. I might have you sign a petition on my behalf in this regard. Sue those guys for discriminating against the vertically challenged and the chocolate addicted.
I suppose the key is not to take your height (or lack of it) too seriously. I can always think of myself as being “petite” rather than “short.” So, to all those fun-sized peeps out there, didn’t some wise person once say, “good things come in small packages” ?