Hills District Mum Lee is a valued member of the Hills District Mums Facebook Group admin team. Mid 2016 she was diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, otherwise known as High Functioning Autism. Since then we’ve watched her gain a greater understanding of who she is. We’ve admired how she has chosen to embrace her different theory of mind and forge a life where her desire for structure, creature comforts, kindness and peace prevail. She is now ready to share her story openly with the aim of empowering and supporting other women and mums on the spectrum. Thank you of spending 5 minutes with us Lee du Plooy!
Tell us about yourself
I’m an (almost) 30 year old wife and mum of two beautiful daughters, and am just getting back into the workforce after three years of maternity leave. I’ve never been a career woman; being a stay at home mum was my dream job. Now that my youngest is nearing two, and as a family we want to get ourselves in a better financial position, I’m in a transitional period of deciding what path I want to take, that’ll be good enough to leave my young kids in care for.
This journey to discover more about myself and my priorities has lead me to some fabulous volunteer work with Bears of Hope and Hills District Mums, and last year I established a small business. I’ve also prioritised my mental health (which I’ve battled with throughout my teens and 20s) and, through seeing a wonderful local psychologist I’ve been diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome (also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder level 1 or High Functioning Autism). This knowledge has provided a welcome context as to why I’ve felt “different” all my life without knowing why.
Although I am working part time and mum-ing around the clock, I’ve found a passion for sharing information about Aspergers and Autism, and ending the stigma surrounding neurodiversity and mental health.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a mum on the spectrum?
I find spending face-to-face time with people draining, both physically and mentally. Prior to having kids, I was able to space out my socialising to allow enough down time to recoup and recharge. Unfortunately, no one told my kids that mum needs every other day off! I struggle with the constant interactions – I suppose a good analogy is to compare it to exercise. I feel like I’m constantly working out and need to rest. My husband is really supportive however, and I take some time each week to get out of the house by myself, when I usually just go to a cafe and sit, eat and read. When my youngest was suffering with reflux, my nerves were absolutely shot from her daily high pitched crying. Loud and/or high pitched sounds send my anxiety skyrocketing. Fortunately I am quite well versed at maintaining good mental health and know my triggers and how to calm myself when I feel the panic rising.
What do you love about being a mum?
I love that I care about my children more than myself. I’m not trying to sound like a martyr, bear with me – having dependants that require me to turn my attention outwards has really helped stifle my unending self-analysis. I feel that I can just “be” me, because I don’t have (nearly as much) time to think about how to behave – too busy chasing around after the kids.
I am in awe that we birth these little humans and they bloom into individuals with unique personalities. I love witnessing the love my daughters have for each other. I feel immense pride when I see them perform acts of kindness.
My daydreams of being a mum didn’t disappoint. I get a real kick out of shepherding my two through their early lives and I only hope they’ll want me to be a (big) part of their adulthood, too.
What do you love about the Hills?
I was born in the City, spent my childhood on the North Shore, my young adulthood in the Inner West, and now live in the Hills as a mum. My husband and I were once talking about where we’d buy if we won the lottery (should have bought a ticket, huh), and my immediate answer was the Hills. I’ve never before felt a sense of community like I do here. I feel grounded and safe here. I honestly feel that a big part of that is Hills District Mums. I’m aware of the bias, being a community moderator for the group, but as someone who struggles with in-person socialising, the group is perfect for me, and I’ve made many good friends through HDM.
The Hills has so much for families, the outdoors especially. Forests, parklands, playgrounds, swimming pools, splash parks, farms. We have a list of activity ideas to draw from when we have a spare Sunday and I don’t think we’ll ever get through it!
You’ve recently set up a Facebook group for mums on the spectrum. What will this offer? What is your aim?
Yes, I recently formed the “secret” Facebook group Aspergers/Autism mums in Sydney. It’s a support group for mothers on the Autism spectrum (diagnosed or not) who live in Sydney. My aim is to provide a safe space to discuss parenting and life in general, and to make some local connections. I want women on the spectrum to feel empowered and supported.
Lee blogs about life as a mum and woman on the spectrum on Instagram. You can follow here.
If you are a mum on the Autism spectrum and would like to join the Facebook group, email Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org