You've probably seen her drawings in her feed. Paula Kuka is the Australian mother and artist behind the popular Instagram account, @common_wild. She has two kids, a ton of talent and an uncanny ability to create art that captures exactly what so many other moms are feeling.
We had the chance to ask Paula a few questions about her life, her art and how other moms have responded to her humorous illustrations that so perfectly explain how the rest of us are feeling.
Common Wild m.facebook.com
Here's our Q & A with Paula Kuka of Common Wild:
Motherly: Why did you start doing this type of art?
Paula: I started up my illustration business while I was at home with my son and it was when I was pregnant with my second child it started to gain momentum. I had taken a year off work with my first baby but I had barely left the hospital with my second and I was itching to get back to drawing.
I didn't want the pressure of customers and clients while I was adjusting to being a mum to two kids so I decided to embark on a little personal project. I'm terrible at keeping baby books up to date, so I decided to document those days with illustrations. I wanted to record the funny things my kids did and said, their milestones, the blissful moments, the chaos.
"My idea was I would turn them into a book to give my kids when they were older. One of my first drawings expressed the internal struggle mothers feel of simultaneously needing space and wanting to inhale their children's scent when they aren't with them. The response to that drawing was overwhelming. This was the point I realized they needed to be public. From there my drawings became more about the emotional experience of being a mother.
Motherly: Which piece has recieved the biggest reaction?
Paula: My four-part illustration "You are not alone" has probably had the biggest response. I show a woman feeding her baby at night and the words "the nights might feel lonely" and as you zoom out you can see more and more women up at night with their babies. I received so many heart-wrenching messages from women all over the world who said seeing this image helped them through some tough times.
On a lighter note, the drawing comparing changing a baby to wrestling a crocodile was reposted thousands of times.
Motherly: Do the reactions women have to your work ever surprise you?
Paula: Always! I often get nervous before I post as I really am putting my emotions out there for the world to see. But within a few minutes I have hundreds of other mums saying "me too!" I'm amazed at some of the profoundly deep responses people have to the drawings, I had no idea they could be so powerful. I'm amazed that seeing a drawing can have such a big impact on someone's day. It's very humbling.
On a very positive note, I have honestly been surprised at how few negative comments I get. Social media can be a scary and ruthless place and yet I could count the negative comments I've had on one hand. I love reading through the comments and seeing mums commenting and supporting other mums, that they have never met. It's incredibly uplifting and heart-warming.
Motherly: What story are you trying to tell here?
Paula: One thing I have learned through this is how universal motherhood is. I receive messages from women all over the world. It has been enlightening that the trivial and humorous parenting moments and the intense and emotional frustrations that I am having in Australia are relatable to people everywhere.
I would love for Mums to know that they aren't alone. I would love to make someone laugh when the feel like crying. I would love to help eradicate some the guilt and pressure we place on ourselves. I want parents to know that just because you have moments of boredom or frustration it doesn't mean you love your children any less.
I entered motherhood expecting to be 100% satisfied and in a blissful bubble and that the only alternative was post-natal depression. I didn't realize there was a huge middle ground—and I believe this with where most mums fit. I hope that my work celebrates and normalizes this middle ground.
[A version of this post was originally published June 7, 2019. It has been updated.]