By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
There is a family in Marion County that has many names and personalities.
First, there’s mom, Chrissy Shoulders-Drainer. Next is her husband, Matt Drainer. Then there are the kids: Dalton Shoulders, 18; Alexis Hillberry, 16; and Elijah Drainer, 10.
Five people. Five names. Five “colorful, different” personalities.
And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dalton is a “die-hard Democrat, intelligent and a realist,” she said of her oldest child.
“The other two are both dreamers, like their mom.
“But all are pretty well outspoken,” she said. “Everybody in my family is pretty well vocal, except my husband.”
All that vocalizing doesn’t mean they’re loud.
“We’re pretty laid back. Pretty balanced. And we’re a mixture. I had two children before this marriage. So we’re definitely a New Age family. My personality balances them out. I’m definitely a dreamer and belive that good things come to good people.”
Sometimes realist butts heads with dreamer.
“Elijah said he wanted to study different religions. Dalton said there’s no money in that. I said, ‘Don’t crush his dreams.’
“Nothing good comes if you don’t hope and you don’t wish.”
She wants her kids to know that success doesn’t always mean wealth.
“My husband is successful, but we’re not wealthy.”
Dalton may be a realist but deep inside, he’s probably as much an idealist as any teenager.
“He voted this year. It was a big deal to him. He’s waited for this and had his picture taken outside the courthouse. He thinks his vote will make a difference.
“He’s determined to change something in this world. He wants to make a difference. I try to encourage that.”
She knows she must let her children make mistakes.
“As long as it’s not harmful, you have to let them make those decisions. That’s the only way they can learn. You have to let them fall so they can learn to get back up. And I’ll be here to help them get right back up.”
She knows the specialness of coming from a blended family. Her parents divorced and her dad remarried, with other children in the family.
“The only traditional thing I’ve done in raising my children is to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m lucky that my husband has a good job.
“It’s important for children to know someone is always there for them. I’ve done the soccer mom thing. I just came home from a basketball game. It’s important to support them in things.”
The family is very competitive in sports and even board games, she said.
“Family fun night is an easy way to sit together and talk, to be a family,” she said.
As she looks at her children, she knows she needs to remember one thing.
“I was also their age once. I want to be their friend, but I’m more their guidance and support system. I like open communication and tell Dalton things from my past he’s going through.”
Honesty and loyalty are also important to teach children, she said.
“The people you count on most is your family. They will always be there for you, regardless of what happens.”
She put away personal dreams the first time she held her firstborn.
“I realized this is what I was meant to be. Once I had my first child, I knew what my purpose was.
“The best part of being a mom is sharing all my experiences with my kids, whether good or bad, and teaching them there is a consequence to their actions.
“I also like that my kids look up to me and respect me. I know, in all this craziness, that I’ve done something really good. I look at my kids and know they are loved and cared for.”
Raising a family is also about making memories, she said.
“My kids will have memories of things I’ve taught them. It’s important to be a good role model. You can’t just tell them not to do something. You have to lead by example.”
She’s especially conscious of this when explaining things to Elijah.
“He is still so curious and his mind is like clay. It’s still being molded. Everything I do and say affects him and changes his perception. I have to be careful, because I know I am leaving a lasting impression on him.
“You never know what they’re going to remember.”
She’s both teacher and student here.
“I learn from them, too, good and bad. Your family is all you have in this world, the only thing you can really count on.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.