#497 – that’s a good thing

A few scattered thoughts on this one. It seemed like quite a revelation for Hanna to openly express her love this way. Later on in the series, it would seem more natural. But something about this strip made it significant. I think for me it was significant. There was always a little bit of confusion about Hanna and Marek's disagreement about kids, and I always wondered if I'd nailed that point in well enough. This strip is really the crux of it, but for years there would be replies asking about it (good thing for comments sections, right?). I don't know if there's anything else I could've done short of an entire storyline devoted to it. But I didn't want it to seem like breakups of long term relationships stem from a single reason or event, certainly theirs didn't, and I wanted their separation to be slow and tangled and with not much profound to say.

24 thoughts on “#497 – that’s a good thing

  1. 61,320 hours is seven years. I had to check

  2. This strip hurts — it's where it becomes obvious that Hanna is headed for a hard fall.

  3. Parenthood doesn't ruin your life. To an extent, it IS somewhat selfish to assume that it would.

    Source: have two kids of my own

    1. Not everyone is the same as you. Hanna isn't saying no one should have kids (only climate science is saying that :P) she's saying her own happiness is tied to freedom and would be directly obstructed by being responsible for others. Its great that she knows that motherhood isn't for her because I think she wouldn't give even one thought to the safety of her own children.

    2. But it might if you're a person who knows, deep in your core, that you are not meant to be a parent. Not everyone is.

    3. Plenty of life plans are compatible with kids, and can include them without an inch of compromise. Some life plans aren't.

      It'd be unwise to attempt to bring kids into a life where they wouldn't fit, without being prepared to make changes for them. "Ruined" is a value judgement, not really applicable for a broad statement to people in general — different people want different things.

    4. Question as a very new parent: Was there a time when it seemed as though it did? I mean, I love my newborn son, but looking at my life before him, at my life now, and my future life as it projects into the next couple of decades there's one recurrent thought: That person I was? He is dead, gone. Permanently.

      Right now I'm more a baby-serving machine than a person and although I expect that eventually I'll be a person again, that person I will be… it's not going to be the person I was, for better or worse. I do hope that it will be for the better, but either way, my past self's life is ruined, kaput.

      (Disclaimer: this baby was not a surprise nor was he undesired, it's just that not even in my most pessimistic projections I expected this that this level of erasure of my person would be necessary).

      1. I have been struggling with this also! I don't have kids, but I've read accounts like yours and how grueling it is at the beginning… and yet I've also read/been told by other parents that kids really are a blessing.

        I've always had money problems (student loans yay) so that is also a huge factor. But, is it really selfish to want to only have yourself and your partner, and not really want to bring another person into it? Sigh. ;(

        1. FWIW, I think it's selfish to not have kids *just because* it will cause your lifestyle to change–and it will (and, to an extent, *should*). At first, it is MUCH harder to get away and with my kids at 7 and 4 respectively, having an adult conversation is also much, MUCH more difficult without interruption. That said, you learn how to adapt.

          Things do change, but it's not all bad, and one day you'll get some of that time back.

        2. I and my partner have arrived at the conclusion that either all these woes are eventually forgotten and replaced with a contented satisfaction at having done such a big thing and that that forgetting and new feeling are a secret directive embedded in human DNA to ensure that humanity will keep procreating instead of giving up after realizing how awful it all is, OR that old people are just vindictive jerks that withhold the knowledge of the true suffering that it is to raise kids just to see their own kids going through the same. Jury is still out 😀

          More seriously, it IS selfish to not want to have kids to instead have time for yourself and your partner, enormously so. Thing is that it is ALSO enormously selfish to bring a new life to this world. Why would you or anybody do such a thing? Nobody really believes that their kid will be the saviour of the world or even just a small improvement (though one /hopes/). In truth, any reasons you'll ever hear for having a baby all distill to a single basic one: "because /I wanted/ a baby/kid/organ donor."

          So don't fret about being selfish in this regard or make choices to try to avoid selfishness. Rather, choose the brand of selfishness that you think you'll be able to live with.

      2. It's a mix. Newborns sleep most of the day, so it's possible to just carry a baby around. They aren't trying to get down or run away and aren't telling you every little detail of their life every microsecond of the day ^_^

        That said, my kids are finally old enough where I can just tell them to go play outside and don't have to be watching every moment. They are starting to be capable of minding themselves.

      3. It is completely normal. After you become a parent the person you were before DOES "die"in a way. Sometimes you have a hard time adjusting or a difficult newborn phase and that old you goes out like a lion. This was me and it's not fun. Sometimes you have an easier time or a lot of support and it just kind of slips away unnoticed until it's gone.

        But here's the thing… I experienced this MULTIPLE times long before I had children. It used to baffle my mind how I would feel like a different person or like the person I was had disappeared in just a short amount of time. Was I same the same girl that lived here? That did that? That loved this person? That experienced this trauma? I feel like I've had an "interesting" life so it may be exaggerated in me but I can't imagine that I'm alone in having this feeling. As I march (happily) into middle age I realize I'm all those people and more and when one "me" leaves I'm interested to see the next one coming.

        The bottom line: what you're experiencing is tough but whether you had children or not you would have likely experienced it at some point.Also, it totally gets better. I am SMOTHERED in kids now (some of my own and I'm a preschool teacher) and I feel much more myself than ever just because I've gotten so much better at making space for me.

    5. Reading the questions to these, it's kind of funny how much people's trepidation about parenthood seems to resemble the trepidation I had about going to law school. Basically,

      – I hear this might be a good thing to do,
      – But there's no guarantee it WILL be,
      – And it seems like a lot of work that would erase my personal life in the short term,
      – And even in the long term, my life will probably be more stressful and demanding than it is now,
      – But lots of people who have done it say the eventual benefits are worth it.

      I'm not saying these are even close to the same thing–in practically all the particulars, they are very different–but the thought process seems to proceed along similar lines.

      1. From my experience so far, that's a pretty accurate assessment.

    6. I know more than a couple of people whose birth ruined their parent(s)' lives, and their parent(s) ruined their lives in return.

      Not everyone is emotionally capable of being a good parent. Not everyone ever will be. Admitting that honestly, before you take responsibility for another human being's entire life, is not selfish.

  4. This Arc kind of marks the point of no return for the art.
    The Characters have become gradually more and more cutesy but this is when the stark difference between the first few comics and the art style OP is known for finally becomes apparent.

  5. I really appreciate how you wrote Hanna and Marek's relationship. I also went through a long term relationship that ended over similar issues (marriage and kids) over a period of years and months. It was messy because neither of us wanted to leave the other, but we knew we ultimately wanted different things. It was a really hard way for a relationship to end, and I think your writing really nailed the cyclical nature of grief, especially when you still have feelings for the person you've broken up with. In my case though, we've never come to a place where we're able to interact, despite living in the same town and running into each other occasionally. Very weird.

  6. Regarding the commentary: I think a weak link in the strip is that we don't see a lot of other reasons or catalysts for their breakup either, as far as I recall. So we as readers tend to assume that the disagreement on kids, as sketched in these few panels, must be the main reason and perhaps even the only one.

    1. Yep, I was going to say exactly this. Back then it didn't seem like a slow gradual burn. One day, all of a sudden (from my point of view) Hanna was devastated. "What happened???" She and Marek broke up. "WHAAAT?? HOW? WHEN? WHY???" Then someone in the comments posted the link to this strip and it was like "oh, I guess that's a reason…?"

      1. I agree. I bet this disagreement about kids is the biggest reason, but I also remember how into school Marek is, and the protesting. I don't think we even know what he's studying, but it does seem clear that Hanna is forging a path and he's preparing to forge something that might be too different for her to come along.

        I always assumed that, because the story focuses on Eve, there were other things going on with Marek and Hanna that are private. And when it ends, it's as surprising to us as to the characters.

      2. Marek in past strips had alluded to a future for himself he had settled on in his heart a few times with Eve, and none of those times did he even mention Hanna. Kids were a big part of it, but really the main thing is Hanna had landed where she wanted to be whereas Marek was still in flight waiting patiently to build his nest somewhere.

  7. I always liked that it was vague, and told from Eve's perspective. It reminded me a lot of my early twenties, also living with a housemate that was slowly breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. Of course I knew the big issues, but there were glimpses of other things they were clearly trying to keep private, and the end result was similarly drawn out. All in all, the breakup plot felt realistic – Hanna would never let others know the gory details so why should the readers know?

  8. On the other side of the spectrum, Hanna openly sharing something so vulnerable to both us and the reader was a massive moment for her. It's the first admittance of a reality and future she has no control of, as so aptly set up by the earlier club scene. Especially powerful seeing as it's a first for her in the entire comic's run.

    More subconsciously you could argue there are some potent seeds of jealousy being planted here as she sees Marigold, a person who has actively welcomed Hanna's guidance to field her chaotic life, settling in and reigning control of it for once; without Hanna. Or more accurately, against what Hanna would do, and worse, just as Hanna's life is on the precipice of shattering.

    As a catalyst of what is essentially the core of Octopus Pie and Eve's life, this arc, and more specifically Hanna's development here mark a huge turning point for the strip. Someone earlier remarked that this is the point of no return for the comic, and I agree but not because of the art. Tonally and character wise, we gradually arrived to this strip that marks the completion of Octopus Pie's transformation. And we're only halfway there!

    1. Well put. I’m gonna dork out and even say that Eve’s “love is beautiful” panel is the exact point when the comic crosses that one way boundary. It just kind of feels really significant.

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