The Girl Next Door
Inside Katie Holmes's Life in New York City
By Michelle Tauber
She's the most famous ex in the city.
In the wake of her warp-speed divorce from Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes is settling into her life as a newly single mom in Manhattan.
Single, but hardly alone. So far she has had two constant companions by her side: her 6-year-old daughter Suri, of whom she won primary custody, and her mom, Kathleen, who is visiting from Holmes's hometown of Toledo, Ohio.
On Wednesday the threesome spent the day at the Central Park Zoo, where an enthralled Suri fed the alpacas and the goats – and sweetly shared the food with several other children – as her proud mom and grandma looked on. (Holmes also showed off her parenting skills by gently defusing a scenario familiar to many parents: the I-don't-want-to-leave tantrum.)
It was yet another summer outing for the three generations of Holmes women, who on Tuesday visited Chelsea Piers, a recreational center where Suri attended a one-on-one gymnastics lesson with a private coach.
A relaxed Holmes "looked natural," says an observer. Compared to the weeks leading up to the divorce, "her smile wasn't forced. It just looked more real."
Raised a Catholic
Beyond establishing her favorite kid-friendly spots –including the Children's Museum of the Arts and Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper East Side – Holmes may be putting down roots in other ways.
Raised in a Catholic family before she embraced Cruise's Scientology faith, the actress – who, a source recently told PEOPLE, "has always been more of a Catholic than a Scientologist" – has reportedly registered as a parishioner at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, a progressive Catholic church near her new home in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. (Neither the church nor Katie's rep have commented on the report.)
The actress also has been busy feathering her new nest in an ultra-private building, where she moved with Suri shortly before filing for divorce.
Picking up high-end Frette sheets at ABC Carpet and Home the day before her divorce papers became public, "she looked like she was a woman on a mission and had a lot of things to get done on her agenda," says an observer.
One thing not on her agenda: Shooting the single-mom drama she wrote, "Molly," which was set to begin rolling this week. PEOPLE has confirmed that the film's production has been postponed indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Cruise is set to wrap filming on his upcoming sci-fi thriller Oblivion in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in the next few days.
The actor, who was given broad visitation
rights in his divorce settlement, may head to his ex's new stomping grounds
next: He is expected to reunite with Suri, whom he hasn't seen since the
• Reporting by SYDNEY BERGER, HITHA PRABHAKAR and ALEXANDRA ZASLOW
For much more on why Tom and Katie's marriage crumbled, the phone call that ended it all and what role Scientology will play in Suri's life, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday