It’s 8:19 a.m. We’re hustling to get out the door.
If you walk past our house around this time you’ll hear my morning battery of questions: “Where are your shoes? Do you have your backpack? Please don’t open the umbrella in the house. We need to find your jacket. Let’s GO!”
Out the door we run, down the two blocks to Rory’s school. It’s the luckiest commute in the world, and we know it; testing the limit each day of how late we can leave the house to make it on time by 8:30 a.m. We hug and kiss and say goodbye to Rory. Then Toby and I make our way to Potrero Kids preschool.
As we walk the five blocks we talk to everyone. We talk to many people we know; some we don’t. We have new “commuter” friends who we pass on our path and are always glad to greet. Sometimes we linger on a corner for a while, talking and playing with friends who are just starting their day. Sometimes another mom puts Toby on her back to haul him up a hill when his legs are “tired.” Sometimes when he runs so fast ahead people we don’t know ask him to hold up and wait for his mommy; thank you! Occasionally my dear friend from college – we went to school in Chicago – passes us as she finishes her morning run.
Post work and school pick up we like to drop into The Good Life for a bagel, where we run into neighbors and friends buying things for dinner. Some days we see friends I grew up with in St. Louis who now live or work in the neighborhood.
Walking the streets provides opportunities to learn, too. We talk about reasons why someone might be living out of a shopping cart or tent; how many people live differently for lots of reasons. We talk about the diverse ways people get to work and school: by bus, train, bike, car, on foot. We watch the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital helicopter come and go, and talk about how it’s helping people in emergency situations. And we talk about making sure cars see us before we cross the street.
As a Midwest transplant to San Francisco, I often reflect on how I was raised versus how I’m raising my family. I like to think I bring some of my Midwest practicality to city living; I don’t pay $9 for avocado toast when I can make it myself. I have a daily reminder of my Missouri roots thanks to living on Missouri Street. Did I grow up with more space to live in? Yes. Did we curse as much growing up over trying to find parking? No. Do I miss snow days? Yes. Did I walk to school or to the grocery store? No.
And that’s really the heart of why I choose to raise my family here. City living has brought so much more to me and my family, but I’ll forever cherish these days of walking our neighborhood with my little people; days made richer by the people we see.
Stacey Delo is the founder of Maybrooks, a career resource for moms. She lives with her family on Missouri Street. “Why I Choose to Raise My Family in San Francisco” is the brainchild of the Potrero Residents Education Fund, a nonprofit committed to helping create a stronger, more vibrant San Francisco by ensuring that families from a diversity of income levels raise their children in the City. Submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.