Meet a Houston Mom: Meet Allison Zapata, Children’s Author and Photographer
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Houston?
I grew up in Tyler, Texas, then moved to Laredo, Texas for high school. After that it was on to Austin and San Antonio, before finally planting roots in Houston fifteen years ago.
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
I have two boys, ages 7 and 10.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
Despite my big mouth and the fact that I’ll talk to anyone and everyone, I can be painfully shy in social situations, and maintaining self-confidence is a daily struggle for me.
Favorite local activities to do in Houston?
I love to explore all of our green spaces, water holes, and bayous. Second to author, I am a nature photographer and Houston offers some of the most diverse wildlife in the country.
Do you have a favorite family-friendly restaurant in the area?
Goode Company Taqueria is a staple. And no, those aren’t my kids wading in the fountain. Probably.
What local places do you go to for pampering and/or mom’s night out?
What is this mom’s night out you speak of and where can I find it? Sigh. Honestly, I’d love to make myself sound exciting, but it’s so rare that I go out anymore. Despite having the best of intentions when making plans, the reality is that once the bra comes off the odds of me going out drop drastically, right alongside the boobs. (But, I do love to grab a glass of wine or coffee at Tiny’s every now and again. With a bra.)
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
I am a children’s book author and speaker. My days are filled with sharing the messages of my book, Bernadette the Brave, (a true story about a little bird I saved, but who ended up saving me). I feel so lucky. I get to wake up in the morning, find somewhat matching socks for my kids, then go off to teach empathy and kindness to kids from all walks of life. And I get to shout from the rooftops (and sometimes with a microphone) that being different isn’t a curse but a gift. And how the most painful times in your life, can sometimes open the most beautiful and meaningful doors.
How has the Houston community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
It has been everything for me and my family. It believed in and supported my dream before it became a reality, and before I even believed in it myself. As if all that weren’t enough, Houston also saved my life, physically and emotionally, during Hurricane Harvey. No place has ever felt more like home to me.
What is the best advice for juggling mommyhood and running a business (or volunteering, working, etc)?
Learning how to say no without feeling like a monster. For example, there’s a high likelihood I’m on some secret blacklist for being unable to work concessions during a little league game this season. And that’s okay. As parents, working and non-working, we offer what we can when we can. It doesn’t make you a better parent to stuff Monday folders, and making snow cones during a little league game doesn’t make your kids feel more loved. It’s okay to let a few balls drop. The world will still turn. Focus on what really matters to your family. Something that looks different for everyone.
What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?
The fairy tale life you so desperately crave is not the life you will ultimately want. Happiness does not follow a blueprint, you have to create your own.
Funniest shortcut/routine for helping you through parenthood?
Lately I’ve been taking famous songs and making them into my own when it’s time for my kids to do something.
Exhibit A: When walking down the hallway at night to put them to bed I loudly sing, “The mommy is comin at ya! The mommy is comin at ya! The mommy is comin at ya!” to the tune of Miami Sound Machine’s, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.”
(But now I fear I’ve said too much.)