Motherhood is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Often, these struggles go unsaid, as moms might shy away from talking about the harder parts of parenthood. Illustrator Paula Kuka, aka Common Wild, is opening up about the good and bad aspects of rearing children in her comics about parenthood. In four panels or less, she highlights the gamut of emotions that run through her while caring for her kids. Some illustrations share her frustrations and fears, but they ultimately demonstrate just how much she adores her children.
Kuka began drawing her cartoons in the “early, hazy, and intense days” of being at home with her second baby. “I knew I was never going to get around to filling in their baby books and I wanted a way to remember this very special time,” she recalls to My Modern Met. “I started posting them on Instagram and my followers quickly increased.” In doing this, Kuka recognized what resonated with her viewers. “I noticed that the cartoons that were more about my emotional experience of being a mother garnered the most interest, so I naturally steered towards these sorts of drawings.”
There has been an even brighter side to Kuka creating comics about parenting struggles; her readers have felt seen and their emotions validated. “It’s a different view of motherhood than what we traditionally hear about,” she says. “We hear about the bliss and contentment, and we also hear about the other extreme—postnatal mental health issues. But not as much is said about the middle ground and the fact we can go from intense frustration, boredom, loneliness but also hilarity and overwhelming love in a matter of minutes. Most of us occupy this middle-ground.”
Kuka is a mom to children ages one and four, and she often feels stretched thin with responsibilities. At the same time, however, she is grateful to have this outlet and be embarking on this career. “This sort of work really lends itself to being a work-at-home-mum,” she explains. “Inspiration comes directly from being with my kids, so even if my mind is wandering, it’s not wandering too far.” Like many moms, she is using nap times and evenings to complete her digital drawings. “Of course I feel like I have a million balls in the air at once but I know how incredibly lucky I am that I’ve found something that fulfills me that I can do and still be at home with my kids.”