Writer & Photographer / Allison Yates
“She’s fun!” exclaims Finn, 7, one of Kerri Dooley’s five children. Along with Finn, his twin Greta, 7, and sisters Grace, 11, Silvi, 5, and Tess, 2, all agree their mother is well deserving of this year’s Carmel Mom of the Year Award.
Dooley is a mother of five who’s dedicated to teaching her children faith and values while not taking herself too seriously. Standing in her kitchen, her impeccably dressed, cheerful children laugh and admire her. The feeling is mutual.
Dooley only grew up with one brother, but her grandmother, who met her grandfather during World War II in Genoa, Italy, was a mother of five. Being a mother of five, just like her grandmother, was something she’s always known she’s wanted.
“How can it get any better than that?” she says.
She studied organizational leadership and supervision at Purdue University, where she also met her husband, Tom Dooley, and later worked in the mortgage industry. Now, she’s a full time mom.
Though, she admits, as a mother of five children, she’s still putting her degree to good use and enjoying every minute of it. Her days start around 6:30 a.m. when she gets her children ready for school at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Back at home, she spends time with Silvi and Tess, where they play, learn, run errands and clean, and she even teaches a weekly Mother’s Day Out.
She also manages to do a lot of baking —snickerdoodle cookies are a family favorite — and Italian cooking, just as her grandmother did.
With so many sports and activities, things get hectic sometimes. Her children may want toys and other material objects, but she makes sure to raise them to know that memories and experiences are more important than these things. She wants her kids to be happy, but ultimately, she says, “My main goal is to raise them to be good people.”
Being a great mother comes easily to Dooley, but she credits her husband, Tom, for helping her be one. They are a team, supporting and balancing each other.
“He’s the best dad ever,” she says. She values her friendships with other mothers, too, which have given her support throughout the years.
Dooley’s children are a different stages of adolescence, each one is beautiful in their own way. Just as soon as she starts to think her kids are growing up too fast, though, she has hilarious moments where she realizes they’re still young.
“One can always tell the age of a kid by how he looks after eating an ice cream cone,” she told her husband after seeing the messy faces of her children one day.
“It’s just fun being a mom,” she says with a big smile.