Mum's Refreshingly Honest Cartoons Nail What Motherhood Feels Like as a Whole
Relatable, comforting, and downright hilarious, it is like finding a diamond in the rough.
‘How I feel about becoming a mother’ could be an internal struggle for most mums—it’s no big secret that being a mum is hard. But often there are days where words fail to describe just how hard it is. That’s when we turn to our village, and whether that village is in person or on the internet, it is essential we have a place to turn. When we find a community that is relatable, comforting, and downright hilarious, it is like finding a diamond in the rough.
That is exactly what artist and mum of two Paula Kuka has created with her artwork.
Kuka hails from Perth, Western Australia, and lives with her husband with whom she shares a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year old girl. She is an artist by trade, doing gorgeous commission pieces, but is now known for her extremely relatable and viral comics that center on motherhood.
“When I started drawing them I was doing it for me and my kids,” she tells Cafemom. “It hadn’t crossed my mind that this would be a project that other people would connect with. I just wanted to keep a record of my thoughts and some of the things my kids did. When I realised they were resonating with so many women, I realised what a powerful thing it was. It was making people feel less alone with their own daily (and nightly) struggles. I hope that seeing my drawings helps brighten someone’s day and lighten their load. Maybe they will see a funny side to something that was causing them stress.”
And her intentions worked. Kuka’s Instagram page, named for her business Common Wild, has amassed 155K followers. Many of them regularly engage with her work, whether it is in the solidarity of venting around a tough day or laughing at the absurdity of it all. Kuka really created the page as a way to have an outlet for her thoughts and feelings, but her mission shifted as more people interacted with her work.
“Comparison can be a very toxic thing when we are feeling vulnerable, and if mums are trying to show an image of perfection and you feel like you are struggling, it can be difficult,” Kuka tells Cafe Mom. “If we all open up about our struggles and our less than perfect moments, we will take the pressure off trying to achieve the completely unattainable idea of perfection.”
Though Kuka has created many different mum-comics, her most popular is the one that made her work go viral.
“I think the one that has touched the most people is the one about being up at night alone with your baby and imagining all the mums who are also up with their babies,” she tells CafeMom. “I get messaged thanking me for that image every day.”
Kuka also noted that of her “lighter” work, this one is the one mums most relate to …
..and it is easy to see why — because changing a diaper is truly like wrestling an alligator.
“We’ve all been there,” she notes. And we have, which is what makes her work so delightful and reaffirming.
Kuka also uses her artwork to send important messages of solidarity to mothers — including what NOT to say.
“Stop telling mums not to have feelings other than #blessed,” Kuka beautifully captioned this one. “We are humans. We have emotions. We feel the highs and we feel the lows. We have a physical and hormonal response to our kids crying (I don’t even know if that’s a fact but it certainly feels that way). Oh, and we absolutely love our kids to bits.”
No one is “safe” from her witty comics.
Even grandmas get lovingly called out in her artwork. How many of us watch our parents spoil our kids rotten in ways they couldn’t/didn’t with us? It’s both immensely beautiful and simultaneously frustrating.
But mostly, her stuff is just relatable …
Like this one, where we all have marveled at just how much stuff can fit into one silly little van. We all remember the days a big trip meant shoving whatever into a suitcase. Nowadays winging it just isn’t possible, and it’d probably be easier to hitch the house to the back of the van.
And whether mums are first timers or on their second, they can get something out of her art.
If mums thought expectations were possible with baby number two, they should think again. Not only will they challenge mums in totally different ways, but they’ll humble mums too. Kuka’s cartoons hilariously remind us of that.
“Expectations” are a heavy theme in her work.
“Spoiler alert: It doesn’t get easier. It just gets more interesting,” she captioned this one.
Although it might seem like she is being a little disheartening, the truth is, she’s just being real. Each of our experiences with motherhood is wholly unique, and therefore, wholly void of any expectation or comparison.
It also applies to the pressures and expectations we put on ourselves.
“Sometimes the pressure is too much,” she openly captioned this on Instagram. “I honestly wouldn’t give up my human growing abilities for anything … but I really hope my daughter grows up in a world with a slightly smaller footnote. PS. My little girl, you CAN achieve anything. Also, hydration is very important.”
Even Kuka’s nonmum comics nail how we feel.
Suddenly, burgers seem like a great idea! All kidding aside, as we approach another season of resolutions and fanfare, Kuka’s comics remind us to not take life so seriously and to just enjoy it (and the food in it) without any limitations.
Oftentimes it is her simplest drawings that totally capture our simultaneous joy and heartache.
Whether mums are working or staying at home, images like this can really strike a nerve.
‘The main thing I want to say i[s] this,” she captioned this illustration. “It doesn’t matter what side of this drawings you are currently sitting on — your feelings are valid.”
Kuka’s work also beautifully acknowledges so many of the common falsities of parenting.
“Everything is a phase,” she begins this caption. “This is completely useless advice. When you are in the thick of it [insert: sleepless nights … tantrums … toilet training … fussy eating … defiance … etc. … etc. … etc. …] it is all consuming. You can’t see your way out. It seems never ending. But of course as quickly as it arrived, suddenly it’s over. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Until the next hurdle.”
She artfully also captures how most mums are feeling.
Most of us can attest to the feeling of being pulled in multiple directions. This perfectly shows what that is doing that to us, and how we are allowed to be frustrated about it and voice those frustrations in a healthy way.
Her cartoons aren’t all venting.
Many times they are introspective, like this one.
“This was very relevant to my day,” the mum shared on Instagram. “Two sick kiddos. An impatient headspace because my mind is slightly distracted with my ‘to-do’ list. A very short nap from the toddler. Even the four year old was annoyed he didn’t get his ‘me time’ before she woke up. So when things got a bit tense we went into the garden and I was aware my neighbour was in hers. It’s amazing how well you parent when you think someone can hear you. It forced me to be patient when the two of them fought over who got to use the broom (even though there are two identical brooms.) I took the time to come up with relatively sensible answers to a string of questions about whether mosquitos can see through glass. It really did turn things around.”
Many times her cartoons are like a soft beacon of light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“Even on your worst day, you will still be their number one,” she captioned this cartoon. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Could there be any truer words ever spoken? There is nothing quite like getting this unexpected reminder in the middle of a tough day.
Overall, Kuka’s goal with her cartoons is to provide relatable, comic relief to her audience and mums everywhere.
“I think it’s relatable because I straddle the line between the blissful and magical moments and the stressful and chaotic moments,” Kuka tells Cafemom. “Mums generally aren’t allowed to complain about parenting or say they are having a hard day without someone accusing them of not being grateful for their children. I try to put it all out there so other mums know its OK to feel that way. You can complain about your kids but still love them and be an amazing mum. In fact, sometimes venting and having some space makes you a better mum!”
Lead image credits to Common Wild
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