We've all been there: comforting a sick child, and wanting to do anything in the world to make him or her feel better. I remember when my daughter was about a year old, she spiked a crazy high fever, so I stripped my clothes off and jumped into a cool bath with her. I needed her to know she wasn't alone, and that mommy was here, no matter what.
That was just the reassurance Thomas Whitten wanted to give his son Fox, when the 1-year-old couldn't stop vomiting and having diarrhea one night. The Arizona father cradled his ill baby in the shower for hours, during which time wife Heather, a photographer, snapped an image that would later go viral.
"It was just beautiful. It was not surprising or anything out of the ordinary; it's how he has always been with the kids," Heather told Today.com.
When I saw the photo of Thomas and Fox, who was diagnosed with salmonella weeks later, I was indeed stunned by its raw beauty. Because that, right there, is love. Pure, unconditional love that only a parent can give a child.
Except the photo would also be misinterpreted as being sexual when Whitten did an interview for a photography blog. Incredibly, Facebook also banned the photo twice, but reinstated it.
"I wanted to take it down just because I thought it would get blown out of proportion," Heather says. "I thought the point was getting missed."
She hopes people will "get it" anyway. "It is okay to get naked with your son and nurture him...the important thing is really taking care of your kiddos."
Amen, mama! Sorry, folks, but there's nothing sexual about the human instinct to take care of your young, whether you're naked, clothed, or in a clown suit. And anyone who's been up in the night with a sick child knows that and can see the sheer beauty of this photograph.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.