For Alison Hughes Bogue of Henrietta, motherhood is a labor of love that calls for encouraging and enriching the six young children she and her husband, Joshua feel blessed to guide.
“I’m glad they have each other,” said Alison, 34. “They are a blessing to others.”
She said that the children (ages 10 to five weeks) are actively engaged at the church they attend, Faith Community Church of the Nazarene on Ed Harris Road in Cheatham County.
“I see Emma with Miss Anita, and Abby with Miss Beverly, and Hunter off with Cain,” she said. “It’s a way for us to bless our community.”
During the time of the COVID-19 restrictions and school closings, Alison has been homeschooling Emma, 10, Abby, 8, and Hunter, 7.
Alison is a 2004 graduate of Cheatham County Central High School and a graduate of Austin Peay State University, where she pursued a degree in teaching.
“I taught kindergarten for one year at East Cheatham Elementary School, with Dawn Young as the principal,” she said. She attended West Cheatham Elementary School and the Cheatham Middle School before moving on to CCCHS.
She remembers longtime WCES principal Amber Raymer as being known as “the tooth puller” for many young students as well as teachers and staff at WCES.
In addition to homeschooling her four oldest children, she also encourages activities for Noah, 5, and Lucy, 4. There is also special attention given to Toby who is five weeks old.
Joshua, 38, works at home as a programmer for a company in Nashville.
Because the environment can get a bit rowdy and rambunctious, Alison purchased noise-canceling headphones for Joshua whose home office is located in the sunroom of their house.
The kids connection
Three of their children — Hunter, Noah and Lucy — have hypotonia, which created challenges initially for walking, with leg braces for the boys, as well as speech and feeding therapies because of low muscle tone.
“When Hunter was born, his blood test came back as cystic fibrosis,” she said. “He’s a carrier, but he doesn’t have it. Both Noah and Hunter didn’t walk until they were two years old.”
But the kids are now all high energy with positive direction and enthusiasm that Alison attributes to their feeding off each other with love.
Alison also noted that the eldest child, Emma, a fourth-grader who attends East Montgomery Elementary School, had just been accepted into the gifted program for students. Abby is a second grader at EMES and Hunter is in the first grade.
Forming a family
Alison grew on the Cheatham County side of the town that sits on the Cheatham-Montgomery county border.
“My dad was a tobacco farmer, and then he went to work at State Stove now known as A.O. Smith in Ashland City,” she said.
The couple met when Alison was going to APSU.
Joshua, a southern California native, had attended a large university in Arizona where he found most classes having nearly 100 students.
“I then transferred to a small community college in Arizona which then led me to transferring to Tennessee Tech,” he said.
He helped a friend move and the friend wanted Joshua to meet Alison on New Year’s Eve.
“We knew after seeing each other for a week that we’d get married,” Alison said. “But I wanted a Christmas wedding, so we waited until December 2008. Emma was born in 2009.”
Both Joshua and Alison agree that one of the bigger challenges the family faces is travel time.
“Flying is not an option because it’s too expensive, so we drive,” Joshua said. “We can’t fit into one hotel room. So, we look for a cabin or condo.”
When the Bogues visit Joshua’s family in Phoenix, it’s a 30-hour drive in the family van with only one stopover.
The motherhood role models
Alison said her mother and her grandmother, known as Mama Poole, who had 15 kids, are her greatest influencers in defining her role as a mom.
“The three of us were always together,” she said. “You’d go to their house; you got fed and were listened to. All my family memories involve my mom and my grandma.”
She said that many first-time mothers come to her for advice, noting that the learning curve is really a loving curve.
“I tell them that everybody’s different,” she said. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Infants are pretty sturdy, and I can swaddle like nobody’s business. Generally speaking, no one is worse or better than another. God puts the child and the mother together. Even adopted kids are with who God created for them to be with.”
She said that Hunter and Noah’s health issues helped her to explore a journey of special needs children.
“You meet a spectrum of mothers from worried to laid back,” she said. “You learn that every single child has a special need of some kind. You have to learn how to help each child overcome and live with what they have. Most of those that will never outgrow the problem will learn that they are fine. Special education has made me more laid back as a mom. You learn to help them grow.”
She noted that children look at things differently which provides a fresh, inspirational perspective.
“We see a tree as a tree,” she said. “A child sees a tree as a fort or castle. For Abby, a magnolia tree became her clubhouse.”
Alison, who was a faithful participant in 4H when growing up, credits former staff members Nancy Rucker and Kathy Nicholson as mentors in helping her mature and learn new skills.
“I certainly do remember Alison. I am shocked and honored that she said that I was her role model,” said Nancy Rucker, longtime staff leader at UT Extension in Cheatham County now serving in Hamilton County. “I watched Alison grow up through her involvement in 4-H from fourth to 12th grade.
“As a younger 4-H youth Alison was quiet. She has always been very smart and she always had great stories about people. I remember a 4-H Exchange trip we went on and it was her first time on a plane. She was a bit nervous but she made the best of it. I also remember the first time she told me about Josh, the man she later married. I always knew Alison would be happy and successful in all she does.”
The family’s pastor, Shaun Sutton, said he also feels blessed by the Bogues.
“They prioritize their family, they are deeply caring individuals, and they seek to serve people in our community,” he said.
The only real challenge that the Bogue family faces on a regular basis is the expenses that come from having a large family.
“You buy food in bulk sizes beyond family size,” Joshua said.
As for the future in growing their family, Alison says she would love to adopt.
“The house is always in chaos,” she said. “Every day is filled with crying and some fighting, but it’s also filled with love and hugging and joy. Each day is never the same as the next.
“Each child is born with a personality, and it changes as they’re growing and learning. Every single day they’re almost like a new person, especially since they’re going through stages like infant then toddler then preschooler. It is so cool to watch them develop.”