I recently looked at my kids, and could hardly believe they were mine! My 12-year-old son is taller than me and my daughter is slowly getting there. It feels like I blinked and they were all grown up!
As a child, I remember always thinking I wanted to be a mom. That’s not something most kids think about, but deep in my 9-year-old heart, I knew two things; one I wanted to be a parent, and two a doctor.
My training as a naturopath helped me see each patient as a unique individual, to understand that I had to get to their root cause and find their personal obstacles to cure, in order to treat them successfully. William Osler, a famous Canadian medical doctor from the 1900’s, said: It’s much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has. Getting to know my patients on a more personal level is an important part of the process of treating them holistically.
This way of thinking has helped me understand both of my children better, to recognize their special gifts, their unique abilities, and to know that they are their own universe. It means I often have to let go of my own preconceived notion of how things must be done, and allow them to find their own way. It’s a challenge for the side of me that likes things done “just so”, but I’m learning; and it’s helping me grow, to become a better version of myself.
It’s definitely not easy, so I’ve tried to develop new skills, habits, and techniques to help me be more patient, more loving, and kinder. In some ways it seems like there’s nothing we can do, if we’re impatient or can’t handle certain behaviors, we often just accept our reaction to them. But in my experience, getting good sleep (not really possible when you have an infant), exercise, abdominal breathing, and meditation go a long way in helping me stay calm in a tough situation.
This is something that I often talk to my patients about because from a naturopathic perspective the body, mind, and spirit are all connected. They impact each other. If I don’t address a person’s anxiety, I’m ignoring a significant aspect of what could be affecting their physical health. As an example, studies show that psychological well being has a positive impact on how our immune system functions. Conversely, exercise is something that can help us have a more balanced mood, which in turn can help us be a better parent.
I give each patient a detailed personal health plan, but I can’t make the lifestyle changes for them. I used to be hard on myself if people didn’t follow my recommendations, but I’ve learned to accept patients where they are, not to take it personally and let go.
Now that my kids are about to enter their teenage years, the challenges of uncharted territory are on the horizon, but I know there are exciting opportunities ahead; the chance to connect on a deeper level, to have new meaningful conversations, to love more fiercely, and begin the process of letting go. And so my journey continues…
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Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a naturopathic doctor and mother of two, who works at Beijing United Family Hospital. To find out more, check out her website at
Photo: Adobe Stock Photo
This article appeared on p19 of beijingkids May 2018 issue