06/28/2013 11:16 am ET Updated Aug 28, 2013

Culturing My Kids -- Episode One


So here's the thing. I have two kids -- two boys -- and I raise them alone. That means I'm a single mother, and that means I'm failing miserably. No, they're good kids. No drugs. No alcohol. No pregnant girlfriends, as far as I know.

But for these 15 and 12-year-old boys, I don't do enough. Don't check their homework enough. Don't talk to their teachers enough. Don't prepare dinner enough. In short, I don't "enough" for them.

They're pretty happy, despite my shortcomings, in our house in the suburbs of San Diego. They enjoy wearing shorts year-round, playing video games and watching reality TV, like "South Beach Tow" and "Lizard Lick Tow" and other shows about towing.

But as I stand in the kitchen, ordering pizza for dinner and watching them watch a character on TV named Bernice scream obscenities at people as she tows their cars, I wonder if my "not enough" has slipped even more. Maybe I'm not even close to enough.

Because here's the other thing. I have a pretty interesting background. I lived in Europe for 12 years and most of those as a journalist. I've experienced things. I know things. And I could be teaching my kids those things. You know, opening their minds, widening their horizons, giving them a glimpse outside of reality television and video games.

"Do you know who Ann Boleyn was?" I ask my 12-year-old during a commercial break. His blank stare is answer enough. I get on my computer and do something really crazy.

Let me pause here and stress the crazy in my act. I'm talking nuts. I'm talking slipped a lid and drooling profusely. Because with a few taps on my keyboard, I clear out my bank account, ignore my deadlines and book releases and responsibilities for my house in the suburbs, and I book an epic ten-and-a-half week trip to Europe with my kids.

That same night, over pizza, trembling with the brashness of my act, I tell them the good news. My 12-year-old stomps out when he discovers "South Beach Tow" doesn't air in France. My 15-year-old grows angry when he discovers he will be missing Comic Con.

"Yes, but we'll get to see where Ann Boleyn had her head chopped off," I tell him with glee.

"Who?" he responds and sends a mass text to his friends to tell them once again what a bad mother I am.