Being a parent is a wild ride. There are high highs, low lows and countless weird-yet-wonderful little moments sandwiched in between.
Writer and illustrator Rachel Deutsch is the mother of two behind the Instagram account @WeirdMomArt, which she started a couple years ago after she had her second kid. In her work, she captures both the absurdity and the wonder of parenthood.
“I’ve been drawing cartoons off and on since I was a teenager, but I never really shared them beyond having them in a student paper for a year,” Deutsch told HuffPost. “I felt like my creativity blew up in a good way after I had my kids. There were just so many ridiculous parenting moments and I felt like such an animal. I started to draw and write a lot more after becoming a mom.”
Deutsch described her kids, ages 2 and 4, as “wild beasts who are tender and amazing and destructive and endlessly curious.” She often finds inspiration for her cartoons while she’s with her kids — and occasionally while she’s lying in bed in the middle of the night.
“I’m terrible at falling back to sleep once I wake up,” she said. “Sometimes, I have ideas buzzing around my head and can’t get back to sleep. A few times, I just lie in the dark laughing. I’m exhausted, too. Maybe that adds to the free flow of ideas.”
In her life, Deutsch said she’s a pretty soft-spoken person. But in her art, she loves drawing gory and intense human body stuff.
“I would say my art is a bit out there,” she said. “Sometimes I have to run it by a friend to make sure it’s not too gross or bloody. There’s one drawing I did about breastfeeding where the mom ends up nursing a shard of glass since it feels the same as a baby’s mouth. Breastfeeding can be really painful!”
Several of Deutsch’s followers have told her that her drawings made them both laugh and cry, which she considers “the biggest compliment.”
“They make me laugh and cry, too,” she said.
An unexpected perk of creating the Weird Mom Art account has been the supportive and funny online community of parents who have banded around it, Deutsch said.
“I think parents are looking for something that is both funny and gritty,” she said. “Lighthearted, but a little dark. Parenting is hard!”
While Deutsch was pregnant with her first child, she said, she worried she would lose part of herself when she became a mom.
“When certain people saw my bulging belly, they called me ‘mom’ or ‘mama.’ I hated that!” Deutsch said. “I thought I would never be able to refer to myself as a mother.”
“I think that had to do with what I’ve learned about mothers in the media,” she said. “I had absorbed a view of mothers as being boring, faceless and endlessly sacrificing. Or constantly resentful, tired and angry. There’s many valid reasons to feel all those things. But, that’s not all mothers feel.”
However, after Deutsch’s baby was born, she realized she hadn’t lost herself. Rather, she uncovered new parts of herself in this transition. For one thing, being a mom gave her more confidence as an artist — something she never would have called herself before.
“I kind of just stopped caring what others thought as much or if I was good enough,” Deutsch said. “I also want my kids to see me expressing myself through art and doing something I care about.”