My first meeting with Traci Melchor, eTalk reporter and co-host of THE SOCIAL, was very brief…for a good reason. As I ran into her in the wardrobe room on my behind-the-scenes visit to THE SOCIAL, she was busy selecting her outfit for a special occasion that day: an interview with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
We chatted briefly – she complimented my outfit, told me how excited she was to be interviewing her “future husband” (she makes no secret of her crush on The Rock) and promised that we could talk again later.
As the day filled up, we decided that a future phone chat was the best bet for our interview, and we finally coordinated our schedules last week for a great conversation.
On THE SOCIAL, Traci comes across as a bit of a comedic princess, openly joking about how she likes her lighting just so and her face on-camera as much as possible, while throwing out zany one-liners and non-sequiturs (she often has co-hosts Lainey Lui and Melissa Grelo giggling like schoolgirls on the other side of the table after one of her remarks).
While chatting one-on-one with this single mom (twins Phoebe and Phoenix are nine years old), I got to see a different side of Traci, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the depth and wisdom in her responses. There’s something here for every mom to learn from. Enjoy!
You recently went through a battle with cancer (a rare form called DFSP, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; more details here). How much information did you share with your kids, and how did you decide what to tell them?
I didn’t share anything with them right off the top. Because my daughter discovered the spot, which led to my whole diagnosis, I didn’t want to scare them. I knew I was going to be on bed rest and incapacitated for three weeks and they would have to see that, so I felt that that, in addition to knowing I had cancer, would be too much for them. I also realized that I was going to have to deal with my own battle and figure that out first, but when I was over the hump and able to walk a bit more and they could see that I was on the mend and on the other side of it, that’s when I told them. We had the conversation during my recovery.
A question from a reader: “You’re bubbly and friendly and a pleasure to watch on TV. Staying ‘on’ must take a lot of energy, especially as a single mom at home. How do you recharge your batteries and what do you do for ‘me time’?”
You know I love my job, and even when I’m not at work I’m on my iPad, I’m doing research, reading newspapers and books and things like that, so that all feeds in to my job, but as my recovery continues I will start adding an exercise program into my life when I can figure out the time.
I really started delegating things in my life, and I know that’s not an option for everybody but instead of doing my laundry every weekend I go to Wash-and-Fold, and I just drop it off and then pick it up on Sunday so I can have more time with my children.
I also have a personal organizer come into my house a few times a month because for me parenting is challenging and it’s great but no one ever told me about the amount of paperwork that comes with parenting. It can be very overwhelming with permission forms and extracurricular activities and “oh, it’s green day today!”. Keeping track of all of that is overwhelming so I’m not opposed to delegating anymore. I also let some things slide, and I have to get over it.
I’ve even simplified my home. I only have white towels and white sheets so I don’t have to worry about things matching all the time. If it’s a white fitted and a white flat it’s going on my bed. I don’t get caught up in things like that. I’ve also even edited my kitchen. Now all my dishes are white, shatterproof Corelle. If people come over I can put out some fancy napkins with them. Streamlining is still a work in progress, but I find you don’t need all that ‘stuff’ and it can bind you down because you have to clean it and figure out a place to keep it. Simplifying really helps.
What would you say is the hardest thing about co-parenting with an ex? Do you have any tips for parents struggling with that?
I went to therapy with my ex after we broke up. He was looking for reconciliation and I was just looking to be able to speak to him in a civil manner. I find reading books on being divorced is helpful. I finally got it – I was on the jury for the TIFF Kids’ Film Festival, and they had a couple of short films about children of divorce and there was one little moment that caught me. A lot of parents don’t like to send the children’s best clothes or best shoes to the ex’s place, because they’re afraid it’s not going to come back, or not come back in the same condition, and during the course of the last year I realized that only hurts the child. When a child is seeing the other parent they want to feel confident and comfortable, it could be a new family situation, stepmom or stepdad and it’s just stuff. Kids grow so fast and they’re going to outgrow something and never get a chance to wear it half the time because we’re not sending it between households. I think as parents we really have to let go of that stuff, if the child has a favourite pair of running shoes or whatever.
We also can’t send messages to the other parent through the children. No money messages. You really have to get on the same page. It’s hard because it took my ex a while to come around to the idea that I’m not trying to fight, I’m just trying to coparent. I think there were hurt feelings on his part, but that’s not saying I was a saint or a martyr in the situation because I’m sure if you talked to him, I brought my own issues to it too!
My kids are gone to LA right now, they’re staying with their dad for the month of August and it’s the longest they’ve been away from me, but I made an effort to pack each of them a proper suitcase, very organized with their favourite stuff, because I want them to feel confident and loved and secure with their dad, not just with me. We have to be the adults in those situations and figure it out for our kids, because they’re the ones that get hurt. I’m still a work in progress – I was combing Phoebe’s hair a while ago, and we were having this nice bonding moment facing the bathroom mirror and she was talking about something and I must have rolled my eyes because she said “Why is it that whenever I talk about Daddy you roll your eyes?”, so that’s something I have to work on. I keep thinking I’m doing all these great things but she’s still getting those messages from me. Work in progress!
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on the set of THE SOCIAL?
Well, just today we were talking about urban chicken farming and someone brought up ticks and I screamed out erratically “Did you know that a tick is an arachnid?” I just never knew that before and it really freaked me out. Everyday I’m just saying these things!
Someone came up to me after the show and said she thought the quote of the day was me saying that the raccoons in my neighbourhood are “like gangstas who wear their baseball hats backwards”. Sometimes I don’t really think about what I’m going to say before I say it! Obviously when we know the topics we’re going to cover I think about those and prep myself and research but the beauty of our show is that we listen and have an actual conversation, so sometimes I’m just going to blurt out “ticks are arachnids”!
Is there any celebrity out there you’d still love to interview?
Tina Turner. Definitely.
(Season 2 Photo Courtesy CTV)
Here’s the last question, and it’s a big one: your haircut. You’ve had it for several months now, so I’m wondering how you feel about it, and if you’ve had any regrets?
Since I first got my haircut in December of last year, I’ve actually cut it even more – now the sides are shaved! That happened after I came back from the cancer and the surgery and I’d been lying in bed for three weeks and there was a lot of dead, sick energy in my hair so that’s why I shaved the sides down really low – I wanted to get the energy out, and I love it! When I see the old footage of me with long hair I don’t even recognize that person, and I’ve had long hair all my life! No regrets. I still have a lot of variety in my styles, sometimes I wear it straight up or sometimes I have a little more curl in it. I feel freer! I’m not saying I’ll never have long hair again but right now, in this moment, I’m still so excited about it!
You can keep up with Traci Melchor on Twitter, and be sure to catch Season 2 of THE SOCIAL (premiering Tuesday, September 2) weekdays at 1 p.m. ET (2 p.m. AT) on CTV!