The power of Moms and Mahj can start with a bowl of chips when you’re 10 or 12, and you’re helping clean the house and set things up for your Mom’s Mah Jongg game. Maybe one of the players doesn’t show up. Your Mom figures you’ve watched enough games to fill in. Of course you’d rather be doing something else, but your Mom won’t take no for an answer.
You’re a little uneasy at first. After all, these are adults you’re playing with! But you find that they are so happy to have a fourth that they are quite forgiving. They patiently teach you the fine tunings of the game. And you start learning, slowly but surely, to kick everyone’s butt.
Maybe for you, it started when your children were small, and you and the other new Moms needed a break, “adult” time without nursery rhymes or diapers. A few precious hours to relax and focus on something else. Maybe you started as an adult when you saw a group playing in the library one day, and asked if you could join. Your Mom told you she was proud of you for having the guts to do that.
Your children grow and you go back to work. Your game might be consistent, or maybe you go once in awhile. Life is so busy! But every time you go, you tell yourself you really should do this more often.
Along the way, your skills continue to improve. One day, you decide to test yourself at a tournament. You’re intimidated at first, but find that a lot of people you know play mah jongg! Now you have two more groups to go to. You feel guilty leaving your family, but you know that they understand. After all, this is what keeps Mom sane!
Then the kids leave home, and you find you’ve got more time on your hands. Now your Mahj friends are helping you plan for your kids’ weddings, and eagerly awaiting your first grandchild with you. You have to miss a few games because you’re going for visits, and have lots to share when you come back.
But your own Mom is getting older too, and needing more and more care. You’re having to miss games, to make sure that she’s OK, but your friends understand.
And then you blink and 50 years have gone by. Your Mom has left you and you’ve gone back to your game, as your friends help you heal from loss. You’re sure to wear your Mom’s rings every time you play. Your friends tell you that she would be proud that you’re still playing the game she loved.
Your game is so good now that you’re finding yourself teaching others. Tournaments are a place for you to show off your skills. New players are finding you and asking you to teach them.
And then one day your granddaughter comes to visit you. You’ve been teaching her the game little by little, as you were taught by your Mom growing up.
She helps you straighten up the house and put out the snacks. You tell her to put the chips on the table and pull up a seat. You hear your Mom’s voice as you tell her:
Watch closely. Cause this is how you learn to kick butt.
This was written with the help of Facebook postings and Mahj players sharing their “Mom” stories. Thank you to everyone who shared such wonderful stories with me!
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