Where In the World Are We?
We are currently staying in Lumberton, a small town in southeast North Carolina where my family lives, and where we chose to have our first baby.
The Ecstatic Birth of Our Son
The birth of our son was an incredible experience at the local hospital. We had competent and caring healthcare providers, including a nurse who told us she was leaving her job soon and wished our birth could've been her last because it was so touching.
Prince Charming held me in his arms for the ecstatic final moments (or was it hours?) of my 15 hour overnight labor. He skipped the lavish Thanksgiving feast (that he helped cook) to be there for every moment. I rewarded him by hitting him (apparently, although I have no recollection of that) when he came too close to me with breath smelling of powder-cheese snack crackers.
Magic and Romance
Parenthood has been magical. Our little boy is so deliciously perfect he's almost edible. We delight in snuggling with him and kissing his chubby cheeks. I give him new nicknames every hour. Charming likes to discuss solutions to world hunger and poverty with him.
New parenthood has also been hard. Hard, as in, sleepless and grumpy. The romance has taken a predictable hit. You know things are bad when, asked what he would like for his birthday, your husband says "just be nice to me."
Please keep in mind my sleep-deprived and cranky state as I describe our current location.
Lumberton, The Ugly
Located in Robeson County, NC, Lumberton is known for its violence, drug-trafficking, and obesity.
Parts of the county are considered a food desert. It's franchise fast-food for as far a the eye can see. And the eye can see far, as the land is flat here in this part of the state. My high school cross-country team would go to the man-made byway overpasses to do hill training.
There are no independent coffee shops or bookstores. Two recently opened businesses include a drive-through Starbucks and a large, almost warehouse-sized sex shop.
Lumberton, The Love
There are some things to love about Lumberton. Most importantly, my family is here, and they are immensely loveable.
It's got that slow-paced, small-town friendliness. We were standing in line at the post office, asking the attendant a question about the location of some government offices she didn't know the answer to. Three people in line behind us volunteered answers and other helpful tidbits.
People here are kind, friendly, hospitable, and truly caring. They have time for each other. There isn't much elitism, and, with a population evenly divided into four main ethnicities, the racism is, at least, a fair fight.
The town is also known for its extensive healthcare facilities. It's marketed to retired couples who make use of the healthcare facilities and enjoy relatively low-cost housing.
The landscape can be beautiful, especially if you enjoy lush fields of soft white cotton buds, lanky pines, and tastefully dilapidated tobacco barns. The Lumber River hides secrets in tea-colored water that languidly flows around knobby Cyprus knees.
The weather is mild in the winter. Air conditioning is plentiful in the summer.
The Lumbee Indian tribe here has a compelling history worth reading up on. The local, incomprehensible, deep-country dialect of English has a lilting musicality.
Lumberton isn't a place I would likely choose to spend much time in if my family wasn't here. Sometimes it feels like I have a love-hate relationship with Lumberton. But the truth is, a place is really all about its people. And if that's the true, then Lumberton is a place to love.