Interlude 3, Page 3

Well, this page kicked my ass XD Last page in Interlude 3 will be going up in the new year then, no helping it… but Ch 4 is starting next week regardless so I don’t guess it matters that much in the long run (except to bug me on a personal level).

It’s about 4 hours to 2017 where I’m at, but likely the new year for many of you, or at least by the time you read this! So, Happy New Years to you, thank you SO much for reading and commenting and enjoying the story. I love The Meek, it’s a life project that truly fulfills me to chip away at, but Mare is much more personal and meaningful to me so being able to share it and have it understood by thoughtful folks like you is such a joy.

I’ve got some fun MI stuff in the works right now, and have some posts lined up for the Patreon, which is coming back full force in Jan. My mind and body have been verrry slow to adjust to both the winter and the whole… country situation… but I’m really raring to tackle this very weird and pivotal chapter coming up and to share more of the process as well.

Last page soon, and see you in 2017!

88 Comments

  • esplin9466

    Sounds like she has quite the parasite inside of her. Maybe she’s being compelled to carry it for someone else.

    • DrunkenNordmann

      Regardless of what one thinks about motherhood, can we maybe not refer to unborn children as parasites?

      • JJ

        Would “bellyfriend” be acceptable?

        • Lilian

          I’m an obstetric RN with hopes to go back to school for nurse midwifery.

          I should try referring to my patients’ babies as “bellyfriends”.

          FetusFriend? CordCuddles? PlacentaPal?

          • DrunkenNordmann

            Some of these sound like superheroes/sidekicks.

            “PlacentaPal – with the power of throwing afterbirths at you.”

            I never said they’re very good superheroes, though. :p

            But bellyfriend sounds kinda nice.

          • Windwaller

            Babybuddies, PoopPals, DiaperDudes,….

          • Minutiae

            My midwives were highly amused by my referring to my fetuses as “fetus” and “parasite” and sometimes ruder things, when the weight gain needed wasn’t there.

            I think the important thing is tone, and intent. Which is really really hard to do over the interwebs. Some people are macabre.

            I would have dissolved into a fit of giggles had my midwife called it (we didn’t look for sex) a “belly friend” since they were the rudest little spawns.

          • shingworks

            Oh definitely! IRT tone and intent. I so often hear the “parasite” term being used by edgelords who use words like “breeders” and “spawn.” I don’t mind friendly kidding around of course but I don’t want anyone here intentionally made to feel uncomfortable for their lives and choices.

      • shingworks

        Yeah, I think that’s a reasonable request. The point of the comic is to explore issues and caves, not shit on groups of people, and I’d hope that readers would have the same level respect towards others.

        • Minutiae

          I have spawn two children, and I delightedly called the little boogers Parasites while they were in utero.

          I had horrendous morning sickness- I actually lost weight overall after I gave birth to my second.

          They WERE parasites. Much loved, much wanted. But it doesn’t change the fact that they very severely drained my physical well being, and later my mental well being.

          I find it is important to remind people- pregnancy is bloody hard. It can be extremely traumatic, even if wholly wanted and loved.

          That said- I think I’ve said the same exact thing as Bex, many many times when my two were smaller. It doesn’t get better for a long time. I haven’t wanted to hug a comic character more than I want to hug her, right now.

          • Lilian

            You’re right that tone and intent are essential factors. Some patients I encounter cope with the discomforts of pregnancy by grumbling about/at the kid…but in a loving/lovably grumpy way.

            Pregnancy *is* hard.

          • Jay

            I think it’s one of those “I can say it, but you can’t” type things. Like I’m the one going through it, it’s MY lil’ parasite. But woe betide the one who refers to my kids as “spawn” without the social permission to do so.

    • adam

      Or she just FEELs that its a parasite. Babies are not parasites: parasites spend their entire or most of their life inside the host-body. Also, parasites usually do little harm (ideally, almost none) to the host body.

      Now if you are thinking of something like the xenomorph from the Alien movie that incubates in a host body, that’s called a parasitoid.

      • Evilbob dA

        … The definition of a parasite is a “organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense”…

        What you’re thinking about that does no harm is a commensal organism, buddy.

        • Lilian

          I think the fetus-as-a-parasite debate is more a matter of how people care to use language. Language is messy. Just because something fits a technical definition doesn’t mean most people classify said something that way.

          Even though a human fetus qualifies as a parasite according to the definition you included, that doesn’t change the fact that “parasite” can have huge negative and degrading connotations. Those connotations are at least part of the reason people react so strongly.

          There are also some fundamental distinctions to be drawn between mammalian fetuses and, say, a flea. The fetal-maternal relationship is parasitic, but it is the other factors/the bigger picture that makes the fetus offspring.

          • Suz

            I like the above reply

        • Lilian

          To expand on the topic:

          Insisting that the human fetus – or any mammalian embryo/fetus – is a parasite and only a parasite is to miss a more layered big picture/view reality through an erroneously narrow and technical lens.

          Again, even though the maternal-fetal relationship is parasitic in that the fetus gets shelter and nutrients and oxygen at mom’s physical expense, there are fundamental distinctions between a flea/cat relationship and a fetal kitten/cat relationship.

          It is these distinctions that give people a good rationale for making fetuses a classification of their own instead of just parasites.

          Distinctions being: It is a necessary part of how mammals reproduce. It is something which the mechanics of sexual intercourse is aimed to produce, as opposed to an accidental fluke of sex/parasitic organisms taking advantage of sex. Female mammals have uteri, and the function of the uterus is the reception and gestation of a fetus. Female mammals have mature mammary glands, whose sole function is to feed the offspring that once were fetuses. A successful pregnancy and birth is generally a healthy mother and healthy offspring – successful parasites may or may not be very invested in the long term survival of their hosts.

          Same physical balance in the relationship. Different functions. Different goals. Different picture. Different setting.

  • María

    Commenting for the first time to thank you for all the wonderful work you do making awesome art. Happy new years to you too!!!

  • Saturn the Almighty

    I can relate to the laughing about incorrect arachnid anatomy. I hope 2017 treats you well. I hope it treats us all well. Happy new year.

    • Leon

      The funny thing is, as an entomologist she would know that arachnids actually do have 10 limbs, the first 2 used for grasping (pedipalps or pincers), so the 8 legs and 2 hands is kinda accurate. That spider’s mouth/smile otoh is wildly inaccurate.

      Also: happy new year! Looking forward to the rest of the story.

      • shingworks

        I don’t think they were pedipalps XD But yes, they exist, and no that wasn’t an accurate toy.

        • Leon

          Maybe it’s a sun spider instead? I mean, this guy has 10 apparent legs and one heck of a smile XD

          • shingworks

            Haha, I think you are overreading… but yeah sunspiders are not fun, I came across them a lot during field research and they would always run towards the fire/ at me at night while we were trying to label specimens, and get caught in the pitfalls.

          • Wendy

            [looks at image] AW HELL NO.

          • Toast

            Funny – I was just lamenting not having had nightmares in a while.

          • nomohakon

            That is one ugly NOPE.

          • Android 21 3/7

            Aw come on guys! Look at how happy it is to see us!

          • Whachamacallit

            Is that some kind of solifuge?? They’re so weird..

        • Landerolin

          That sunspider looks a lot like a small camel spider, so beloved of anyone who’s spent time in the near East/Central Asia.
          Protip: if the sunspider gave you shivers, don’t go googling the camel spider!

          • Twyll

            Apparently sun spider is another name for camel spider. They’re also called wind scorpions. Despite being neither spiders nor scorpions (nor camels) :P

  • Kat

    Country situation indeed. Thank you for powering through and producing such an AMAZING comic! Creative work seems more important now than ever :(

    This comic is always worth the wait. It seems to be reaching new levels all the time and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

    Happy New Year! Take care.

  • rimmeh

    “This is why all the doctors said you should cut your ho–”

    –rmones?

    • shingworks

      “Hours,” actually XD She works too much.

      • Esc

        No one gets to Mars by being a slacker, apparently.

      • Dani

        Hours wasn’t the first word I thought of either, although I did get there after considering the context.

        I think because of how oddly ‘hours’ is pronounced versus how it is spelled, ‘ho-‘ doesn’t immediately suggest that word.

        • shingworks

          Yeah, agreed, I modified the text a little! Thanks for the input.

          • Zinc

            Nice! I, too, read it as hormones rather than hours, and it made line feel a bit out of place. The new line is much better!

          • rimmeh

            Aha! Now I understand. Thanks. :)

  • Adriano

    Happy new year!

  • Roo

    Having worked on an obstetrics unit as part of my training, I can say I have definitely seen this kind of reaction before ;v; Having a baby is a huge change in life, and it leaves some with warring emotions–joy tempered by fear or even a sense of loss in the face of that change. Plus the propensity to become emotional over seemingly minor things that nevertheless serve as triggers to different thought processes XD

    • David

      Yeah, I don’t really understand the appeal of babies. Me, I’d like to have a pill that I can give to the baby that will instantly turn them into a 10-year-old. A baby would be a nuisance, but a 10-year-old would be fun.

      • Jay

        Well, ten year olds are rarely fostered or adopted, because adoptive/foster parents are way more likely to want babies, so that’s always an option if you’re open to adopt.

        • Lilian

          I approve of this plug for adoption/fostering of older children.

  • I’m not looking forward the possibility of ever becoming a father. urgh.

    • Vert

      The best summation of early parenthood I’ve ever seen is: “All joy and no fun.”

      On the plus side, they get more fun as they get older. On the minus side, I now have a grand total of about 4 hours a week to spend on my own hobbies :P

      • The couple in an appartement on my floor has a young daughter, we hear her at all hour, throught walls, door and the floor corridor.

        • Does does she scream sharply when she wants attention <_<

  • Luces

    Recently there was a big stink about mothers who’d admid that they feel smothered by their children. Society seems to have a hard time admitting that they are no criminals, just different!
    The mother of my grandchild had her problems when dealing with a clinging toddler, too.
    But even before my son moved out, they shared the child-care evenly between them, which was getting even better with the distance, changing a stormy partnership into firm friends.
    Now she get’s halve of the week and every other weekend for herself. While she still may be not a perfect mother, she obviously cares deeply for the child, who enjoys maybe unconventionally, but stable relationships with both parents.
    So, having children you can’t cope with isn’t the end of the world – but it needs courage to find a good way out!

    • adam

      It also needs the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child” isn’t a pithy adage: the idea that only parents are needed to raise a child, especially in the modern world where both parents are working, is shortsighted. Relatives, good friends, professionals, they’re all needed, especially if the couple need time for themselves.

      • Jay

        Absolutely. I see my siblings way more now than before we all had kids, just because getting together and having other adults there makes a huge difference. If you think about it, traditionally adults have outnumbered kids in social groups. Even if you have a bunch of kids, there are grandparents and aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles and others who outnumber the kids on the whole. It’s hard to read kids all on your own, I’m not sure humans are really biologically built to do it that way.

  • Karyl

    Happy New Year to you, Der-Shing! I agree on the necessary adjustments taking time this year–particularly to weather in OH right now which keeps swinging wildly up and down. I am really enjoying this reveal of Bec’s trials and issues with leaving her kids for space. I chose never to have kids because I knew I wasn’t going to handle being in demand 24/7 at all well, so it wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

  • Great to have you back!

    I too had guessed “hormones” or was wondering if it was something plot critical… the problem with writing good naturalistic dialogue :-) it can be mistaken for foreshadowing :-)

  • Omer

    I was close with homework. >___>
    
    Happy New Year, Der-Shing. Bless you for your rad comics that I looked forward to the whole year.

  • brokenidealist

    I can’t express how much I love the last two panels!

    Not having children, I’ve always been an outsider and an observer to society’s Cult of Motherhood. While I have long envied mothers — or I should write, Mothers — for the immense boost in social status they get once they have a child, there are a lot of burdens beyond basic child rearing that I never wanted to take on. Especially the unsolicited advice and judgements from family, friends, and total strangers that I’ve seen new mothers endure. (Oh man, would people hate me for tellling them what they could do with their advice.)

    I’ve also seen how for many mothers, everything becomes about the kid(s) and the role of being a mother. Other interests, hobbies, even a sense of oneself as an individual, that do not relate to being a Mother, get tossed out. I always thought that this was something done willingly by new mothers, but this page presents a very different perspective that I am sure happens more often than anyone ever acknowledges: the role of Mother is forced upon one, and one’s own dreams, goals, and identity as a unique individual is to be suppressed or eliminated in service to Motherhood. I don’t think I’m too far from the mark in calling it the Cult of Motherhood.

    So thank you for giving me a new perspective on this! This is why I love your work, shing! Despite Unfortunate Events in the present story line, I still love Bex as a character, and even moreso with this flashback into her character developmment.

    • Anne

      I became a mother about two months ago. Even though my daughter was planned and wanted, I had a really hard time adjusting. For the first two weeks, I desperately missed my old life, with time for myself, my hobbies, and my husband. It got better quickly, and I get to participate in my hobbies now while she naps, and hang out with my husband a little more. I had hoped to go back to work part time after four weeks, but Baby’s colicy, so that did NOT happen. It may not happen for a long time.

      Before she was born, I thought motherhood would have breaks, but in reality, I am on duty for 3/4 of the day, and on call for the rest of it. My favourite days are holidays and parties, when she gets passed around family members and friends. Motherhood has convinced me that humans were not intended to live in individual nuclear families. Even with all that, I love her, and I’m glad she was born. I will likely do this again. And yet, I am already thinking about what I will do when she’s in school, and I have my life back.

      It seems to me that motherhood is a rite of passage for women. That’s part of why there’s a status increase. Suddenly, you’re in the largest exclusive club of women ever. Suddenly, you have something in common with the cerebral-theoretical-physicist-mother, the crunchy-yoga-instructor-mother, the stay-at-home-wife-mother, etc. It’s a common bond I didn’t see coming, but that, in hindsight, makes perfect sense.

      • Minutiae

        just… a comment? I hope you don’t take as any sort of annoying advice that always happens to mothers.

        Your comment about being on call/on duty, and then about getting your life back?

        Please don’t wait that long, ok? Your baby is itsy bitsy. start the habit now, of finding time for yourself. Do things now. Because 5ish years is a long, long time to feel you don’t have a life. I waited 7 before reaching out again, and the overwhelming relief at feeling like a person. Quiznak. Don’t wait. Dont’ be me :P

        Also I’m going to sulk, someone said brand new babby and there’s no brand new babby pictures. :P

  • May

    “I thought it was somethings serious.”

    DUDE IT’S CLEARLY SERIOUS JUST LOOK AT HER.

    • StClair

      yes, this.

  • JJ

    In the vein of nitpicking inconsistencies: “Rebecca”, “Rebekah”. Or does this guy get her name wrong?

    • shingworks

      lol, it me. THANK YOU for the proofing, I forgot my own character’s name (and it is fixed).

      • Itkovian

        Is it fixed? I’m showing Rebecca, but the first time we meet her she’s introduced as Rebekah?

        Or do I need to clear my cache? :)

        • shingworks

          Oh, whoops, my layer must have reverted by accident, fixed again XD

  • Jonas

    Excellent stuff, favorite comic. All the best. Love the Meek as well. Let’s not get dragged down by the situation. Work little by little to improve things.

  • Darcy

    Holy crap there’s a lot of greenery here. Even the buildings are covered. Nice.

  • Neera

    Wow, I love every time this comic shows flashbacks to future-Earth. Everything looks so nice. I’m not sure if all of Earth is nice in this future, or if it’s just the areas our protagonists live, but the visuals are great.

    To contribute to the over conversation… well… we all know kids take a lot of time. Time is limited. Not everyone should be a mother or father. I’m left wondering if Beks was always apprehensive about having children, or if this fear she has came on suddenly.

    If she’s always been apprehensive, she shouldn’t have let herself be talked into it… that’s not fair to the kid(s). But you know what they say about hindsight (and what they SHOULD say about people who give advice that could have only helped you in the past…)

    If she wanted kids, then started having these thoughts only once she was pregnant, man that stinks too.

    Either case, much sympathy for everyone involved.

  • adf

    Thank you for writing about this. It’s not covered enough. Seriously. You rock.

  • Brikit

    I love this page. My own little guy is not-quite-two, and I remember the overwhelming feeling that I might be losing part of myself forever when he was born. And to be honest, in those first 6-8 weeks, you really do. It’s just nonstop feeding and sleeping and holding. There’s some marvelling at this tiny human, but it is a relentless march to the tune of your infant’s demands, amidst huge hormonal shifts as your body goes “Oh yeah! No baby, no need for THESE hormones, BUT TRY SOME OF THEEEESE!” And the hormones produced in pregnancy do screw with your ability to cope with some of those feelings, and everything gets so overwhelming so quickly.

    Personally, I’m lucky that I already work in childcare, in a female dominated workplace, with managers who are mothers. That makes a huge amount of difference to the attitude taken towards pregnant employees and mothers in the workplace. Without that actual empathy, things can be so much harder, or feel like you need to push yourself so much more, when it’s really detrimental to your own health. The baby’ll be fine while it’s on the inside, tbh. It’s the mother who needs to take care of herself.

    Being a mother, and especially a new mother, is hard. It’s almost impossibly hard sometimes. But really taking time for yourself is important too, and having a network of people who are able to support that essential part of self care, and not just tell you to be a mom now and get on with it. There is a balance to be had. You have the right to moan about your kid being a little shit, just as much as you have the right to say the sun is shining out their ass today — but I guarantee that every damn day is a mix of both.

    Sorry that this rambled. Basically, this page is important, for many many reasons.

    • shingworks

      Thanks for your insight! As a non-parent, the whole thing sounds unbelievably difficult.

  • Rev

    “Not this again… I thought it was something serious.”

    Wow this actually rubbed me the wrong way (which I think was the point). Feeling for Bex hardcoore here – not everyone reacts to motherhood like it’s the most magical thing in the world. Completely invalidating her fears just makes you a jerk.

    But maybe I’m taking this a little personally, as someone who had been told how I would “make such a great/cute mother” despite me KNOWING that I would break if I ever had a child. No one understands this better than I do. Not everyone is going to “change their mind” or wistfully daydream about the prospect of having babies. And that’s okay! Our society should be more respectful of women wanting to be more for themselves without being seen as “selfish”.

    Seeing how Bex reacts to being asked if she’s a good mother by Michael, and her current position, I get the feeling that she is one of these people. Someone who acknowledged that she was never cut out to be a parent, while being undermined by the people around her because getting married and having kids is supposed to be a Thing You Do. It’s no wonder why she’d want to run away.

    Not saying that it’s a good thing for her to do, but I’m just saying. I can get where she’s coming from.

    • Lilian

      Well said. People have different strengths, different weaknesses, different interests. And they contribute different things to the world. Huge amounts of unnecessary conflict comes when people don’t express themselves well/jump to conclusions about the intentions of those who are different.

      I’m someone who likes babies. I also like animals. I like to think I find babies and animals appealing for the same reasons. They ground me.

      But that’s coming from someone who generally enjoys nurturing, helping, and communicating with beings that don’t use words. Not everyone does. That’s okay.

    • Lilian

      I’ll just add that people should just be responsible with the interests/disinterests that they have.

      Don’t like animals? That’s okay. Just be respectful of them as living things and remember that some people love them. Don’t want to parent? That’s okay. Take the steps necessary to avoid creating a new human altogether.

      Love animals? That’s okay. Just try not to get them if you aren’t equipped to care for them and remember that some people don’t like them. Love babies? That’s okay. Just don’t try to have one without thinking about what a big deal it is/how much work it will be, and remember that not everyone has to love them.

    • Brad

      Just to offer counter-point, the hormonal emotional roller-coaster during and just after pregnancy isn’t just exhausting to the mother, but also to those around her. Yes, he should be more sensitive even this is a pretty common occurrence, but especially in relationships which are normally based on rational discussion (like mine), it can be very hard for the husband to adapt to providing pure, non-rational emotional support.

      I agree that not everyone is cut out for motherhood, and that they should think a lot about it ahead of time. Some things to note: it’s not your whole life, even if it is a lot of it. In some cases it certainly can be the end of your career, but not your hobbies and friends. You just have to be ready to put those aside for a few years (or 10 or so…).

      (I’m a new father of a 4-month old son, and I get about 8 hours out of the whole week to ‘do my own thing.’)

      • Brikit

        Agreed! I think her husband’s reaction is actually really realistic. There is an amount of extra patience that supportive partners try to provide, but when a pregnant woman is stubbornly overstretching herself and stressing the hell out as a result (because those pregnancy hormones don’t let you really collect yourself properly), it can get really hard for the partner to continue to be as supportive as they were. It’s stressful on the relationship.

        And we don’t know if *this* is the exact thing that Bex has been worrying about — this might be the first time that she’s been able to effectively put it into words.

        In some ways I am utterly baffled by Bex’s decision to leave her children, because I’m someone who could never do that. But also, in my experience in early years childcare, I have seen a handful of parents who definitely resent their children’s impact on their lives. Like. They love them. But there’s an underlying resentment for their existence. So in some ways it’s nice to see a mother who didn’t let that happen?

      • Jay

        I think his frustration is understandable, but also he’s being a real ass at the same time.

    • StClair

      heck, I’m a male, and never going to be in this position, but that response still got my hackles up.

      no, dude, you’re failing at being a supportive partner.

  • Wendy

    Ouch. Overall, this is a tough concept to deal with, giving up one’s professional identity for that solely of a mother. Not accepting this still makes a woman a pariah, apparently, in the age of this tale.

  • Lilian

    Great page. I think introducing the reality of Bex’s decision to leave her children *after* introducing Bex was a good move. By letting readers meet Bex first, it is easier for us to sympathize with her.

    Major life transitions make a lot of big feels. Conflicted feels are normal, especially when said transition is an unplanned pregnancy. That is, assuming Bex’s pregnancy is in fact unplanned.

  • Herp McDerp

    Your use of color is always wonderful, but the colors in the first two panels are just outstanding!

    • shingworks

      Thank you! those took me sooo long to color, haha.

      • Chyro

        I just saw Goblin Comics got the colorist from Girl Genius. The former was a fantastic colorist, the latter might be even better. They’ve got nothing on you. Reading webcomics can be a humbling experience…

  • Darcy

    “I thought it was something serious.” In other words, something physical happening to her body is serious to him, but not something mental. I’m beginning to think Mike and Bex are more similar than different depending how well Bex has been able to wrestle with her feelings and society’s expectations of what a mother should or shouldn’t do between now and landing on Mars. She may be quite distraught but covering it up well for all we know. :(

  • TinHeart

    Not sure why I’m bringing this up, I guess because you recently said that you did a bunch of international research for Bex’s character, but does this page/will this thread of the story deal with her country’s/culture’s attitudes on women and mothers (I mean, in a more specific sense than culture is inescapable :P) or more just women and motherhood in general? Again, not entirely sure why I’m asking except you mentioned research and I’m daft and it’s laaaaaaaaate. -_-

    • shingworks

      Yeah, this was one of the primary reasons I had to do so much research; I had no clue what the attitudes in Nigeria were about a lot of the issues I’m addressing here and I didn’t want to assume anything. All of that research informed the story, but with the caveat to the reader that I’m portraying characters as individuals and not representatives of entire cultural/ gender/ whatever groups.

  • Ben

    I’ve got kids, and all kinds of changes happen …

  • Ha ha, so here’s a potential spoiler alert/guess, but is she even physically carrying the tyke? I’d imagine external wombs would be available technology at this point. Which would make maternal anxiety even less sympathetic a syndrome to have…

    • Ah well there’s the baby bump, never mind.

  • THIS. Is the reason that I don’t have kids yet.

    My husband wants to, and a part of me wants to, but I’m already so consumed in work (my full-time “real” job and my leftover time freelance “love” job), that I can’t see how I could have a child without giving one of those things up, seeing as I’m the person with the boobs and uterus. And as my “real” job pays most of our bills, it would likely be the freelance job that would go, and I just can’t do that. It’s my actual love and identity.

    The struggle is real. I love Bex. ;________;

    • Kaiserin

      Me too…

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