How I've Grown to See my Father
How I’ve Grown to See my Father is imbued with the nostalgia of adoring my dad while growing up. I would watch him leave at 6 am every morning to go work at his construction job. He would wreck his body to provide for his family in the way that manual labor affords immigrants. As I have grown older, I have gained a more nuanced, dialectic understanding of my father that created instability in our relationship. I am more aware of his complex and at times problematic inclinations: his machismo, toxic masculinity, and views on gender. I reflect on his being as not just a father, but also as a husband, and as a mentor, not just a provider. Through conversations with other Latinx peers, I have ultimately grown to see my dad as a placeholder for the opposing characteristics of Latinx men. He is not the impeccable knight I used to see him as and wish he was.
The scene depicted stretches beyond the confines of a single realization, spanning the understanding of my dad that I have formed over my lifetime. I used to find nobility in manual labor, a humility in his scoliosis induced for the sake of providing for his loved ones: my dad the martyr. Now, I have matured to include a labor analysis when observing my dad’s tool shed, which makes it hard to idolize class oppression: my dad the prole. Then again, those are the hands that built my home (literally and figuratively), those are the tools that were used, that is the man who made it possible: my dad the knight. But I have continued to ask myself: who is that man?
In my role as a daughter I encountered a few unpleasant sides of my dad as “the father.” In my role as an independent woman, I met a challenge and my world was flipped as I watched my dad “the partner” interact with my mom. His roles alternate, but we go back and forth trying to hold onto old memories amidst new ones. Those hands that look like my own hold the needle that I used to capture my dad’s impact.