America Hernández

A Daughter and her Father
essay, 2023

A daughter and her father

My dad never got to paint my childhood room.

Maybe it was for the best, I’m pretty sure I wanted it to be some sort of aqua blue... so, probably for the best; but he never got to do it.

He painted my brothers, a combination of blue and brown, he even changed my brothers’ floor to hardwood, but I never got my aqua room. I understood, obviously. I had to. My mom would say it was because he was busy with work. Whenever I brought it up, he’d tell me that maybe if I had woken up earlier on that particular Sunday morning that we could’ve gotten it done. But I didn’t, so we didn’t.

I think about my dad and I a lot. I think about how I say that I hope to be more like my mom one day. How I wrote my college essay about her. How I always try to get her to say I’m her best friend. Not my dad though, and I can’t help but think about that a lot.

Almost every obvious feature about myself, my stubbornness, my short patience, my nose, comes from him. Almost every moment where I felt that my negative attributes came to life, I connected them to him. I wish I hadn’t. It’s a little sad. How I can savor so much of one parent but diminish so much of the other.
Sometimes it feels ridiculous. It’s not like we’re running away from one another. It’s not like we hate each other. We’re probably closer than most fathers and daughters, and even though in my head I imagine us at arm’s reach physically, sometimes in my heart we’re miles away. Sometimes in my heart we’re yelling into empty rooms hoping the other one hears.

And sometimes, we do. There are days where my dad and I can sit in the kitchen talking about our entire lives, my 20 and his 49. There are days when I tell him that my favorite genre is dystopian and that my favorite movie is The Hunger Games, and I’ll wake up one Sunday morning with a bow and arrows he made himself. There are days where I look back at him and can see that his heart is caught in his throat because of all the love he has for us.

We moved from that house. We now have a new one. A new room.

My dad got to paint my new room. One wall, light green, which I regret, obviously, but I got my room painted.

I think my dad and I will always live in those rooms. In the room that never got painted, and in the one that finally did. I think we’ll always be a mirror of one another, I think we’ll always butt heads, but I can’t describe how grateful I am for that now; I think he is too. I hope to grow into my dad, the same way that I’ve grown into his nose and his stubbornness - naturally.


A Daughter and her Father serves as a space for Hernández to reflect on the relationship she has with her parents, more specifically her father. She gives us a glimpse into the dynamic through the most ordinary of circumstances—painting her room, a tedious, yet simple gesture that (if done) can speak volumes, and even help rebuild fractured bonds.

Hernández depicts a common struggle within Latin communities, where the similarities between a father and his daughter are not as often drawn.

“When people see my mom and I it's always been undeniable that we get along. With my dad it's always been a different story. As a Mexican-American woman, it's hard to admit that the stubbornness, and the nose, and the pessimist, are all a part of me as well, a part of me I cannot escape. This piece gave me the capability to step back and give my dad the room for grace, because without him where would I be. Without him, who would I be?” —A.H.


Growing up in McAllen, Texas, America has always been surrounded by color. From the cultural murals plastered all over the city, to a backyard filled with every flower of every color known to man. This colorful environment has shaped her into someone who wants to create feelings similar to those hues and tints that evoked so much within her; from her memories as a child, to her ongoing ever growing moments.