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Bellydancers & Backlava: Valentine’s Day!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.


Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with the ones you love. Stores fill themselves with teddy bears, chocolate, and miscellaneous heart-shaped objects up to a month in advance. It’s almost impossible to walk through them without either realizing you’re alone or creating high expectations in your mind for the person you are with. Valentine’s Day quickly transforms from a day to spend with the ones you love into a competition to have the most valuable gifts, most glamorous outfit, or most expensive dinner reservations. This year, I was so excited about finally having a Valentine and all the superficial things that come with it, I overlooked the most important part: love.

I have always complained because I have always been single on Valentine’s Day, but the truth is I have never been alone. I’ve gotten to spend every Valentine’s Day with the person I care about more than anything else in this world: my mother.

As cliché as you believe this is, my mother truly is my best friend and soulmate. The amount of things she has done for my sister and I is incomparable to what any one could ever attempt. For you to understand this, I have to give you a quick look into my childhood.

Every day after school my mom would usually be asleep, tired from her busy day at work. She is a chemistry teacher at a local high school. Don’t ask me how, but she managed to raise my sister and I on that salary alone. It pains me to say that whatever we found in our hearts to desire, we would somehow find ourselves holding contently. I always wonder though, how many of her own wants she had to push aside to provide for us. Imagine a single mother burdened with the lives of two little girls still remarkably pushing through. My mother is the strongest person I have ever met. 

But throughout those years, if one thing is still crystal clear in my memory, it is the fear I held. I would lay in my bed every night within the dark walls of my room, directly across from my mother’s room and next to my sister’s. I would tremble from the fear of the unknown. Thoughts would race within my head: what if someone breaks in, what if someone tries to kidnap me and my sister or what if someone hurts my mother? It was then that I needed my father. It was the times where I could not sleep because I needed a sense of protection. It was then that I needed him. 

My father was not a villain. He did not attack us; he did not drink excessively and come home to beat us. Yet, my father was not helpless; he chose to live with his family in luxury and comfort and left it on my mother to raise us all alone. My mother, a Middle Eastern women, raised in a protective environment, fled Pakistan and sought asylum when I was three and my sister barely a year, because she feared persecution in her home country from her own in-laws, my paternal family. You know how until you reach a certain age, you only have a small amount of distinguishable memories? Well, for Pakistan, I have only one. I was sitting on top of a bed, my mother and father had gotten into an argument and they began to fight. It still kills me to this day when people ask me what I remember of that country. I am told that for a fortnight, I was forcibly separated from my mother. If throughout history there has been one bond that is stronger than any other, it is irreparably the bond a mother holds toward her child, and I guess that is applicable here. We considered ourselves lucky if we got a phone call from my father. There was no child support; in fact I do not remember him ever sending us money but once. 

When I was three, my mother brought my 5-month-old sister and I to the United States. Ever since then, my mother has been the most supportive and reliable person in both of our lives. You would imagine that a young woman, alone, in a brand new country would be at least somewhat scared (I was scared just moving to a city two hours away from my home for college), but she never even showed a glimpse of that to my sister and I.

She put us both in good schools, while she worked hard to get herself to a good position at her school. She is the person I can talk to about everything without any judgement, from boys to friends to school. No matter how hard she may have been struggling, she put a smile on my face every single day and guided me through a very happy childhood. 

Every Valentine’s Day, my sister and I would come downstairs to an assortment of different gifts she had set out. She truly wanted to make every experience spectacular for my sister and I. And I remember a year when I was in high school; I was so sad that all of my friends had boyfriends and I would be the only one at school without any gifts. I walked downstairs to the cutest Valentine’s Day basket I had ever seen. She knew me better than anyone or any boy possibly could. 

So looking back at the past 19 years, I was more fortunate than most people. I may not have been able to spend the holiday with a boyfriend or date, but I was able to spend Valentine’s Day with the person I loved and cared about most in the world: my mother, my soulmate, and my best friend.


Cara oversees Her Campus Media's community department and serves as strategic lead for the expansion, development and management of all HCM communities, including the Her Campus Chapter Network, InfluenceHer Collective, College Fashionista, Spoon University, Campus Trendsetters, alumni and high school. She works closely with company leadership to develop new community-related sales offerings and the Integrated Marketing team to support all community-focused client marketing programs from end to end. Cara has experience working with high-profile talent, such as Jessica Alba, Andrew Yang, Amber Tamblyn, Aja Naomi King, Troian Bellisario, Jessica Marie Garcia, Nico Tortorella, Nastia Liukin, Rebecca Minkoff, Cecile Richards and Samantha Power, as well as brands like Coca-Cola, L'Oréal Paris, The New York Times, HBO, Uber, H&M and more. Having been a part of the HC family since 2011, Cara served as Campus Correspondent of the HC chapter at the University of Florida where she studied journalism, women’s studies and leadership. A New Yorker turned Floridian, Cara has a Friends quote for any situation. You can usually find her with her friends and family at the beach, a concert or live sports event or binge-watching Grey's Anatomy or Sons of Anarchy. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thecararose.