Chapter 41: Pen pals at the Border of Crazy

It’s Monday morning at 3am and I wake up from a deep sleep to the sound of my own cries. Shaking my head to regain consciousness, I realize I am safely and warmly snuggled in my bed next to Mr. Pizza.  

Attempting to put my brain on pause so I can remember the details of the nightmare that just woke me from a deep slumber. It’s flashing through my groggy mind, and I try to hold onto it a little longer. It floats away like feathers in the wind. I recall one aspect of the dream vividly, my daughter, MSP, was crying for help, and I couldn’t get to her.

Ask any mother their worst nightmare, and they will tell you that it lies solely in the arms of their child in need. If they couldn’t be there to hold them or comfort them, to take away their pain. That is absolutely my worst nightmare, and so, here I am living that in the dream world. 

My heart won’t stop pounding out of my chest, and I strain to catch my breath. 

After my heart calms, I convince myself that it was just a dream, and I am merely missing my daughter. 

She’s at her Father’s for the next month (August), following the month she stayed with us in July. This is the new summer visitation arrangement following her decision to move to Westfield to attend Middle school (as I shared in my last blog).  

After wiping away my tears, remnants of this terrible nightmare, and the perpetual ache I feel in her absence. I put my head back on my pillow and try to fall back to sleep.

On Tuesday, I get a call from my girl.

“Mommy! Guess what?” she asks

“What, baby? What happened?” I reply anxiously.

“I got my period! It started Sunday night, and then when I woke up on Monday, it came on fully.” She exclaims.

My heart goes full stop. 

The dream comes back to me full force…SHE WAS CRYING FOR ME!!! Why the fuck couldn’t she had gotten her period a week earlier when she was with me?! 

“OH MY GOD, BABY GIRL! How exciting! How do you feel? Do you still have it? Tell me EVERYTHING!” I say all this to her while attempting to mask my tears at the unfairness of it all. 

“Well, I wasn’t feeling that great on Sunday, and I was staying at Daddy’s friend’s house this weekend cause he had to help someone pack or something. Anyway, I noticed a red spot on my underwear, and I told the mom, and she gave me a pad. Then when I woke up on Monday morning, it was coming out A LOT! She was nice enough to help me.”

Inner Monologue: Anger. Hatred. Frustration. I can’t even believe this. What the Fucking FUCK?! 

“Wait, you weren’t with Daddy this weekend?”

“No mama, I don’t know, he had to help somebody pack or something. He didn’t tell me the details, but I had to stay with his friend and his friend’s wife.”

Inner Monologue: I HATE HIM. I HATE HIM. I HATE HIM. Realizing MSP could’ve called me if she had a phone. Realizing she doesn’t even have a phone cause he refused to allow her to have one, even though I was willing to buy it and set up the service. Mother fucker! 

Focusing my energy back to MSP, “Ok, baby, so how do you feel now?”

She says, “Well, my belly aches and I have a headache. I feel exhausted, like exhausted! I don’t want to do anything.” She giggles. 

Thank GOD we had read all those books and practiced putting on a pad! I prayed she would be with me when she got it; alas this time my prayers were not answered.

Then I realize she’s calling me on Tuesday, and I am just hearing from her now. So, I recognize that she must have been with his friends on Monday as well.

Fury. White hot rage. My baby girl had to experience her first period by herself.

“Ok, Mama, I know you don’t feel well. Try to take it easy, drink water and have Daddy get you Midol. It really helps with all the PMS symptoms; it was one of the only things that helped me. I’m so proud of you, baby. You are so strong, and you were totally prepared for this experience.  My baby girl is now a woman!”  I share through tears. 

“I know Mama! I am so happy about it. I just wish I was with you right now.” She tells me, and my heart breaks in two.

“Me too, MSP, me too. But I’m always with you, and we will celebrate when you come home. Don’t forget to read the letters I wrote to you. You are a warrior. The letters I gave you also include articles about historical ‘Sheroes’ who remind me so much of you!”

“I will Mama, I promise! I love you more than all the stars in the sky!” she replies.

“I love you so much, my girl. While we may be far away when you look up at the sky, remember that we are under the same stars. Don’t forget to tell Daddy about the Midol.”

After we hang up, I breakdown. Mr. Pizza grabs me and holds me close and lets me cry in his arms until I run out of tears. And just when I think I am done, more rise to the surface—relentless ache in my belly.   

Finally, I shake it off. 

I go numb. Resigning my power and hope that things could be different, I sit in acceptance. 

I call to check in on her Thursday, and we FaceTime.  

“MSP, you look so pale, baby girl. How are you feeling?” I ask her.  

“I’m still really tired, Mama. My headache and the cramps aren’t getting better.” She replies.

“Did Daddy get you Midol?” I inquire, praying. 

“No, he didn’t. He told me he didn’t have the chance, and we had other things to help me with the pain.” She says innocently.

Inner Monologue: I HATE HIM. I HATE HIM. I HATE HIM.  

“MSP, you don’t need to suffer. I will talk to your Father and make sure he gets you what you need.” I respond, doing my very best not to scream.

“Ok, Mama, thank you. I wish I was with you right now.” She says.

“I know, my love. Soon enough, and I will take care of you.” I say with a heavy heart. 

“I know Mama. You always do.” She quietly replies. 

I immediately reach out to her Father and do my best not to be accusatory. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I ask if MSP told him that she wanted Midol to help with her symptoms. 

He tells me that she did but that he was giving her ginger and turmeric tea as it helps with inflammation along with other fruits and berries.

As I read these words, I am screaming at the top of my lungs. I go on to explain that I  had my period for over 35 years, and Midol helped me significantly with my symptoms and migraines. Then he says that if she gets migraines, maybe we have to consider getting her birth control.

I am NOT making this up. 

I say to him, why would we get her birth control that has many potential side effects when you can simply give her caffeine-free Midol? 

Folks, this conversation actually happened. I have the texts to prove it. I feel like I’m crazy; my ex-husband can’t be this insane. Even the great sitcom writers of our century don’t hold a candle to the insanity of my ex-husband. I cannot make this shit up.  

Trying my best to not rip my hair out of my head from the sheer frustration. Again, I resign to just accept the circumstances. I did my best to advocate for her, now she needs to stand up to him. What other choice do I have? I’ve tried reason, rationale, medical facts, and he just won’t relent. 

It will be over soon, and she will be home back in my arms. I pray that as she gets older, she will find her strength and her voice to stand up to her Father. I will continue to prepare her to be a warrior when she’s not with me when I can’t protect her; she has to learn how to defend herself.

Before she left for the month, I threw her a Fiesta with some family and friends. A bunch of us wrote her letters to read while she was away. I gave her four letters (one for each week). Livi Mazz, her cousin and fellow TDF blogger, gave her eight letters. Four of the letters were written from the POV of the Hamilton character Anjelica-as MSP likes to play her sister Eliza when they practice Hamilton songs. Mr. Pizza and my Uncle’s girlfriend, Mishy, each gave her a letter as well. 

I also wrote her a fifth letter while she was away and included two self-addressed and stamped envelopes to write me back. Thinking it would be so lovely to be pen pals, a lost art from my childhood. 

While I convince myself that this is a good idea, it’s not lost on me that divorce is fucking weird. What’s even more bizarre is that in order to communicate regularly to my kid, she has to become a pen pal. It’s strange how creative you can get in times of desperation. It’s incredible how inventive you can help make a really shitty situation better with something as simple as a few letters.  

These letters were my way of being present even when I wasn’t physically there. Every divorced story is unique, but my hope is that someone who can relate to my circumstances may get inspired to follow suit by sharing these letters. 

I can tell you they helped my MSP stay sane during those 31 days. And gave her strength when she felt weak and alone. I gave her something he can’t take away, the power to love herself and nurture the warrior in her heart.

She came back home on September 1st.  As part of building her armor, I make sure she has Midol in her backpack and a phone in her pocket.




Letters From Cherry to MSP 

July 31, 2020

Dearest MSP, my love, my angel, my girl, my SHEroe!

Its been an absolutely incredible month with you! I’ve seen how you’ve grown both physically (nearly 2″!), emotionally, and intellectually during that time. You’ve been so proactive about your schedule, from planning your camp schedule to your workout schedule-while still leaving time to just be a kid. I admire you so much; your tenacity, commitment, and focus.

In this time, you’ve learned how to budget, sew a button, argue your side of a debate. 

You painted, baked, emoted, read two books, laughed, and learned almost every line of the award-winning show, Hamilton. You’ve progressed on piano, even more so on drums.  

There is no doubt in my mind that over the next month, you will continue to grow and evolve more firmly into the young woman you are meant to be. One that will progress into a formidable woman.

While my heart aches at the thought of not waking up to you, I have no doubt that the next month will help ready you for a fantastic future at your new school.

You inspire me every day to be better–a better person for you and for me. 

As promised, I’ve culled together some letters for you to read over the next four weeks. They are meant to motivate you to believe in your extraordinary. To realize the depth of passion you have for life and the incredibly positive way you have at seeing the truth in everything.  

Over the next four weeks, you will open letters featuring women in history who have made their mark. These are women who never asked permission, who said can when everyone else said can’t.  They are powerful, driven, and singularly propelled by their own vision of greatness. The greatness they see in themselves and the excellence they hope for in the world.

My wish is that while you read these stories, you are moved, that you see yourself in their plight. Because, my baby girl, you are a warrior. You are and always will be a fighter. Someone to be reckoned with…someone never to be trifled with. While you are young, you are ageless. Your wisdom knows no time, no era, and no one before you will make the mark you are about to tattoo on the world.  

And the one thing you should recognize is that no SHEroe’s path is simple or without pain. In fact, it is wrought with struggle. And yet, despite and in spite all the naysayers, these women prevailed. They found the beauty in horror. They made their path through the treacherous terrain.  

This moment marks the beginning of your journey of discovering who you are and who you are meant to be. Knowing you are loved, knowing we believe in your strength. Never, ever doubt your worth. Never, EVER doubt your truth. Go fiercely into this world, knowing that YOU, above all, are worthy of love and respect. And know your Mama will always have your back. Because you are everything, I prayed for and so, so much more.

Much more to come…now read about Artemisia of Caria, Joan of Arc, and Trieu Thi Trinh.

Remember, I love your more than all the stars in the sky, more than cookies, and more than anyone in the galaxy—my sweet, Miss Sassy Pants.

You’re my sunflower. My sunshine. You make me happy. When skies are grey. Always.

Love always, and always,



August 2nd, 2020 

Dearest MSP, my love, my angel, my baby girl, my SHEroe!

It’s only been a day since we parted ways, and I have to say I think of you every minute! I wonder about what you are thinking, doing, and feeling. Not a second passes without feeling the quiet around me; the absence of your silly, sweet laughter.

Today, Pizza and I did a bunch of errands. And we walked Bella Bear, installed a new thermostat, and we worked out like crazy! I’m on seven days of yoga so far, and I’m really loving it.

While I wrote you those four letters for each week, I was so upset when I realized I didn’t include Bella’s picture for you to enjoy while you are away. To remind you of your wonderful furry sister! Included with this letter is one of my favorite photos that you took of da-da-da-DA- BEAR! 

Also, I thought it would be cool if you had the time that we could write to each other. Totally up to you if you have downtime and just might want a fun project. We can share our thoughts, hopes, accomplishments, or even silly stories about our summer days! I’ve included two envelopes with stamps and our address for you to use. It’s cool if you decide not to, just thought it would be a fun way to stay in touch between phone calls.

I become so calm when I think about the amazing young woman that I saw grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically right in front of my eyes. Time moves so fast, and I try to memorize every detail, so I don’t forget everything I love about you.  

I want to remember how passionate you are about your beliefs, how proactive you are about your studies, and how you devour books! I want to relish the memory of hearing you sing Hamilton all summer long and smashing the drums in the attic, totally killing it! I want to remember how you smell after a long hot shower or how beautiful you look as you swim in the pool and the ocean.  

I want to remember how thoughtful you are. You melted my heart when you put in the laundry, made us breakfast, and then made Pizza that brownie pizza and wrote that sweet note after losing his mom. 

You are so very extraordinary. And I hope one day you can truly appreciate the wonder of you, MSP, aka Steve, aka Stevil, aka Evie Bujeebess, aka Eliza! I feel blessed to call you my baby girl. It is a privilege and a gift to be your mom, witness, and biggest fan.

Never ever forget who you are! Never, ever let anyone make you doubt that you are smart, powerful, driven, and committed. No one has that right, and only YOU can give them that power. 

See, what I found out very late in my life is that I am worthy. I am worthy of love and respect. What makes me so happy is that you KNOW that NOW. You know who you are and what you have earned as a human being. You are tougher and stronger at 10 than I was at 40!!! Even more, the depth of your kindness knows no limits. You are the kindest, most thoughtful person I know! 

Life is full of twists and turns, highs and lows, …and it is only in the quiet moments when we can reflect on the beauty in the madness. The joy in the sadness. The beauty in horror.  

This has been a crazy, challenging year so far; my hope is that you will realize your power fully and wholly as you enter Middle school. You will evolve and mature and continue to find out what you are capable of. 

There is no doubt that you will excel at anything you put your mind to…whether its Tae Kwon Do, drums, piano, singing, acting, baking, and art; whatever you choose!  

We all miss you like crazy and can’t wait to celebrate your return. We are ready to support you through this next chapter of your magnificent, magical life!

For now, remember to wash your face each night, brush and floss your teeth, read what you love, write your feelings, exercise (and have fun doing it!), relish in the people around you. Cherish every moment because it goes by in the blink of an eye! I’m counting the days until I get a big bear hug from you…just 29 days and counting!  

Always remember: “You is smart, you is kind, you is important!”

Stay strong. Be smart. Believe in your extraordinary because I believe in YOU! 

I love you more than all the stars, more than cookies, more than anyone in the galaxy! 

Love forever and ever and always,

Your Mama, aka Cherry 

P.S. Pizza told me to tell you…Joanie loves Chachie! LOL! 


July 31, 2020 – Week 2

Dearest MSP, my love, my angel, my girl, my SHEroe!

How’s your week going? I hope you are having fun and staying committed to your studies, workout, and having the best summer.

This week, we dive into the 19th-century female samurai who defied the odds. 

She started her own women’s army that was ultimately against every tradition in Japan.

What excited me about her story was your commitment to Tae Kwon Do. As a black belt, I’ll never forget watching you practice your exercises for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT. While others gave up and quit, you didn’t even think about that. You finished your challenge, and you finished STRONG. I’ve never been more proud of you.  

You don’t just use your power for your own purpose; you use it to help others. 

You are so kind and thoughtful. 

You fight for others when they can’t fight for themselves. That is one of the attributes I admire most about you.

The Story of Tomoe Gozen reminds me of Katniss from the Hunger Games books. She was a warrior in the 12th century, well before women had equal rights or considered anything but property. 

Here you will see the story of a young woman who didn’t ask permission. She was beautiful and fearless…so much like you! She was a leader and led her army to victory.  

Finally, Queen Boudicca was a Celtic Queen who became a warrior after tragedy hit her home. She was widowed, and Rome sought to take her kingdom from her and her daughters. She commanded an army of 100,000 to fight the Roman Capitol of Britain to rule her husband’s (and her) kingdom. 

She fought valiantly and without a match. 

She didn’t sustain her rule in the long run, yet she still faced impossible odds to ensure her legacy was never forgotten.  

I hope you these stories inspire you to know more about these powerful women. I hope you see you are limitless, timeless, and I see your face and feel your spirit as I read each of their stories.

Stay strong. Be smart. Believe in yourself.  

I love you always, and always. More than all the stars, more than cookies, more than anyone in the galaxy! 



July 31, 2020 – Week 3

Dearest MSP, my love, my angel, my girl, my SHEroe!

HI, my baby girl! It’s been three weeks, and I am counting the days until I can see you again! I can’t wait to hug you so tight and just look into those beautiful blue-gray eyes!

This week we learn about one of the first female pirates, Grace O’Malley. A bold rebel chopped off her hair when she was told by her mother that she couldn’t sail with her Father’s ship because of her long locks. This 16th-century maverick fought the British monarchy for the freedom of her son and brother. She fiercely and fearlessly led her craft even after giving birth to her child.  

Then we learn about Lozen, an Apache warrior who helped defend her tribe’s freedom alongside her brother. Her brother described her as a shield for her people and braver than any man he had ever met.  

Finally, we learn about Zenobia. A Syrian warrior who became the ruler of the Palmyrene Empire in 276 AD. She fought Rome and expanded her new kingdom by force. 

She was known to walk step in step with her men, always standing with her army. She embodied integrity and grace…so much like you!

The best part about this project has been learning about these incredible women in HERstory (aka history). Many of whom I NEVER learned about in school.  

The moral of these stories is that NO ONE can ever know what you are capable of. 

You have a fierce belief in yourself. A singular interior force compelling you to seek out your dreams simply because you BELIEVE! This is what it takes to create change and challenge every systemic limitation.  

Stay strong. Be smart. Believe in your potential because I believe in YOU! 

I love you always, and always. More than all the stars, more than cookies, more than anyone in the galaxy! 



July 31, 2020 – Week 4

Dearest MSP, my love, my angel, my girl, my SHEroe!

Seven more days! Seven more days. You sleep and wake up and not that day, you sleep and wake up and not that day, you sleep and wake up and not that day, you sleep and wake up and not that day, you sleep and wake up and not that day, you sleep and wake up and not that day, YOU SLEEP AND WAKE UP AND THAT DAY!!! 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a step back into herstory (aka history) learning about nine amazing women who led armies, followed their dreams, conquered empires, and defied every odd against them, now we will dive into the present.

This week, I’ve included some stories about female pastry chefs leading the culinary industry in the 21st century. I hope their stories inspire you to believe in your vision for the future. When you told me you wanted to be a pastry chef, I could see it. I can see you running a kitchen, inventing tasty dishes that cultivate all the senses. I can see you owning your own business and leading the charge on pastry innovation and invention.  

Anything you dream, you can do. Simply because you can. If you are willing to try and put in the hard work and effort. 

You are LIMITLESS! And no matter the challenge, you will tackle it with integrity, grace, power and kindness. You are a force of nature!  

This year you will discover who you are and who you want to be…just always know that I have your back. Try something new, make mistakes, make new friends, stay in touch with old ones, write, drum, sing, play piano, laugh, play, eat ice-cream, kick some butt, and know you have what it takes to succeed in life…in, however, YOU define success. Because at the end of the day, if you are happy and content, then you’ve succeeded. 

Stay strong. Be smart. Believe in your potential because I believe in YOU! 

I love you always, and always. More than all the stars, more than cookies, more than anyone in the galaxy! 



Letters and Art from MSP to Cherry

Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 10-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at a major media company.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure

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