Meet the Aussie mum drawing parenthood - and winning global fans

Paula Kuka draws the push and pull of motherhood.
Paula Kuka draws the push and pull of motherhood. Photo: Instagram

While on maternity leave with her second baby, mum Paula Kuka decided that rather than keep a baby book, she'd document her days with illustrations.

"I wanted to record the funny things my kids did and said, their milestones, the blissful moments, the chaos," she says. "My idea was I would turn them into a book to give my kids when they were older. I started posting them to social media and it took off from there."

That her illustrations took off is an understatement.

Ms Kuka, who lives in Perth with her husband and two children, a son, 4, and daughter, 1.5, quickly amassed thousands of fans around the globe on her Instagram account Common Wild.

And it's not hard to see why.

Her "witty and pretty" mum-life musings have created a digital community, a village of mothers who relate to the funny, candid and raw illustrations of motherhood in all its guises.

"The community is incredible," Ms Kuka says, adding that she loves seeing people in the comments section having little conversations amongst themselves, supporting one another.


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The mum-of-two thinks the secret of her drawings' popularity is that they portray the middle ground of mothering.


"I think the extremes of motherhood are quite well documented but there is less about what lies between," Ms Kuka says. "It's not necessarily about the content, perfect mother and it's not necessarily about the cliché of the 'hot mess mum' who's hating every minute and screaming at her kids all day. 

"I think it's probably refreshing to see this angle demonstrated and most people see themselves in the drawings."


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One of Ms Kuka's most popular illustrations is of a mother wanting space - then inhaling her kids' scent when they're not around. 

"It expressed the internal struggle mothers feel of simultaneously needing space and wanting to inhale their children's scent when they aren't with them," she says. "The drawings that represent the complicated push and pull of motherhood seem to resonate the most."


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Another series of drawings about being up at night with your baby and visualising other mums awake at the same time also went viral around the world.

"It's such a comforting image and I think it helped a lot of people feel less alone," she says.


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But while anyone who shares the highs and lows of motherhood tends to attract criticism too, Ms Kuka says she's been overwhelmed by positive feedback.

"As my profile grows I do get more negative and critical comments but they are generally people who really haven't been following me for long and are missing the point," she says. "For example, someone told me I should focus more on 'equality for dads' and demonstrate a dad's perspective. How can I possibly do that when everything I do is from my own perspective?

"The good far outweighs the negatives."


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Ms Kuka is currently working on her first book to be released early next year. And after that - she'll keep drawing.

"It has been very fulfilling for me and I feel like I am really helping people," she says. " Although it was never the intention of the project it certainly has given it purpose.

"I love that I have such a diverse bunch of followers with people from so many different counties. It's amazing how universal the struggles and triumphs of motherhood are."


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