I have reached this deeply rewarding point in my blogging habit where I am genuinely enjoying myself with each published piece. Every month, I look forward to presenting you with our visiting Parents and broadcast their stories to the lively Project Mamager community. I have come to adore the creative process of preparing the monthly How She Does It and How He Does It columns: reaching out to Parents, opening honest dialogue streams, diving into the uniqueness of every presence, trying to synthesize a core message and engage in meaningful conversations right after each article goes out. Catching up with the number of messages I receive in the contact form or LinkedIn Profile right after an interview gets published keeps me busy for a whole week, which is response I never expected when I piloted this blog! Every time we demonstrate vulnerability, we sign slips to one another. Opening up invites reaching out!
I had an idea about this already, but I am super confident of my insight now: People love stories more than they love tools. We tend to engage with other people’s tales at a much deeper, almost sacred, mental and emotional level. Narrative twists brains far more than any well-written theory ever will, and people who bring engaging stories to the table automatically invite participation. With that in mind, I am grateful to welcome an avid storyteller by the magnitude of Agnes Alice Mariakaki as this Month’s guest Mom on “How She Does It“!
I met Agnes in a cold meeting room during a corporate collaboration about a new electronic channel for utility payments, almost a decade ago, and imagine this: I haven’t seen her in person again all these years, and I still remember how her presence made me feel being a super-nervous very-first-time junior Project Manager. Agnes has charisma, no doubt. Her welcoming presence invites you to bring no less than your best self out. She is super knowledgeable in her field (consumer psychology and communication), and at the same time she is humble and grounded. No wonder people follow her ventures, and her newly founded YouTube channel around Communication, Body Language and NLP already counts 25 thousand (!) subscribers in two months time! Alice is worth our while, and we need more people like her around!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started out as a small town girl, conquering the big city of Athens Greece, and then found myself learning and studying in diverse parts of the world, becoming, all by myself, a true melting pot of learnings and experiences. I studied Organisational Psychology in London, Non Verbal Communication in Amsterdam, Cultural Anthropology in Austin, Texas, and Lego Serious Play in Copenhagen among other things.
Through all this I became, and eventually ended up, a mother of two, managing a social and consumer research company in Athens, Greece. My biggest achievement, I believe, is keeping the child in me alive and curious, and reinventing myself with courage, over and over again.
Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?
I wish there were just one toughest part, but I am afraid I can count gazillions of them:
- Trembling with them, in their high fevers
- Worrying for their tests and grades
- Crying with them over their broken friendships
- Very often angry with the educational system
- Concerned with their dress sense, hair styles, food choices and music tastes… so foreign to mine
- Often hanging over the telephone for a message, a call, a whisper from their travels, hoping them to be safe
Kids are made of very tough material, I find! We parents are so fragile, on the other hand. I have caught myself over and over again teaching my fragility to my children. They taught me stamina, courage and endless forgiveness.
Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Mother? What type of support are you mostly in need of?
All through their lives up to now, in their adulthood, I have received endless, precious support from innumerable people, some long forgotten but their impact continues. . Loved ones, neighbors, friends, colleagues have, on occasion, heard me out, listened with their heart, held me tight, cooked food, supervised homework, babysat, took temperatures, toiled over hurting tummies, heartbreaks, long working days at the office. There even have been strangers in airplanes, shops, staircases who have helped with luggage, bags, prams and whiny babies and did so with eagerness and joy. I have been the receptor of a million miracles of care, tenderness, thoughtfulness and practical support.
The highest support that I have ever received, though, and the one that I still look for, is that which allows me -without judgement and criticism- to be myself, with all my flaws and shortcomings. For this support, I am grateful to my sister more than I can say.
What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?
The No 1 skill, for me, has been the ability to connect my children with their deepest and truest humanity, a task not always easy. Teaching them compassion, kindness, generosity, toleration for their failures and courage in front of adversity has been a daunting task. But one that has given me a sense of purpose and many unforgettable moments of fulfillment …for all of us.
What advice do you have for a new Mom?
When I was a young mother I wish somebody had told me to go easy on myself. To not be such a worrying perfectionist, feeling endless remorse for every moment spent away from my children for the sake of a busy career. To drop that ongoing inner nagging that I could do way better as their mother. I wish I knew back then the most important value to cherish and nourish every single day, every single moment: namely, Faith.
Believing in their ability for growth, for balance, for change and adjustment, which means:
- Believing in their ability to draw the goodness out of the worst situations and survive…
- Believing in their goodness, their resourcefulness, their strength.
- Believing in my own ability to be a role model for them, despite…
Despite my shortcomings, my faults, my mistakes, my continuous guilt, my sad thoughts that I may have failed them. And maybe in some ways I have, but they have never failed me. And thus, they taught me the magic of faith. I wish I had learnt it sooner!