You know the best thing about being an only child? There’s no math involved. No fractions required to divvy up the last piece of cake. No pie chart needed to see who got the most TV time.
Sibling-free, I got it all. All the love. All the attention. I got praise for the academic subjects I mastered, like French, and even those I didn’t, like trig. When there’s no competition, you get kudos for succeeding at arithmetic as simple as this: Love divided by one is one.
It wasn’t until I was an adult — and pregnant — that it first occurred to me that love might have a numerator and denominator. My husband and I worried how our beloved dog would cope with having a cooing, pink love-hog in the house. Isn’t it a crime to lavish affection on something and then ask it to share that affection with someone new? I asked our vet.
“Love grows,” he said.
“What does that mean?” I asked with a seriousness that should be reserved for conversations about heartworm and distemper.
“The heart expands,” he purred cryptically. He was one of those hippie earth-father vets with tons of his own kids and a fluffy, wisdom-indicating beard. “Love multiplies.”
Damn it! There would be math.