The 41-year-old actress, producer and director discussed in the April issue of InStyle the challenges of being in the spotlight and raising Suri, her daughter with Cruise, following her split from the actor.
Holmes and Cruise called it quits in 2012 after five years of marriage. Holmes subsequently moved to New York, where she was subject to much media attention.
"That time was intense," she told the magazine. "It was a lot of attention, and I had a little child on top of it."
While she was subjected to much scrutiny, Holmes said she also experienced kindness from strangers in the city.
"So many people I didn't know became my friends and helped us out, and that's what I love about the city," the actress said. "There was one incredible moment where I think I actually cried. Suri was 6 or 7, and she was spending the night at a friend's house while I was seeing the ballet at Lincoln Center. At 10 o'clock I got a call: 'Mommy, can you come get me?'"
"I got a cab and went down to Battery Park to pick her up," she recalled. "She was exhausted. She fell asleep on the way home, and when we pulled up to our building, the cab driver opened the door and helped me not wake her. He helped carry her to the building. He was so kind."
Holmes praised Suri, now 13, as "very strong" and hard working. She said she's raising her daughter to be an independent, confident and capable young woman.
"I love her so much," Holmes said. "My biggest goal has always been to nurture her into her individuality. To make sure she is 100 percent herself and strong, confident, and able. And to know it."
"She came out very strong -- she's always been a strong personality," she added. "She'll pick an activity and work her butt off until she's really good at it. Then she's like, 'OK, I'm going to try the next thing.' She's very focused and a hard worker."
Holmes shared a rare photo with Suri on Instagram in December. Holmes, who gave birth to Suri at age 27, said in the December issue of Elle U.K. that she and her daughter "kind of grew up together."
Holmes will star in The Secret: Dare to Dream, a new film based on the Rhonda Byrne book The Secret. The movie opens in theaters April 17.