With a baby, a quiet Katie is a tall order

Scientology or no, maternal silence is hard to achieve



Like you, I eagerly anticipated the birth of Tom Cruise's out-of-wedlock child and, like you, I am more than a little curious to find out if Katie "The Doormat" Holmes managed to comply with Cruise's quasi-religious stricture that it be done silently.

All religions have goofy precepts and rituals, but Scientology leads the pack with L. Ron Hubbard's cracked notion that babies are better off if they enter a world that is as silent as the womb.

It might be good for the baby, but it is not going to work for the mother unless she is drugged into unconsciousness -- one of the many bits of modern medicine that Scientology disallows.

During delivery, mother's moanings, father's encouragements and doctor's orders are discouraged, as is, I suppose, the playing of music, such as the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," which is the most appropriate theme music for this relationship that I can imagine.

I don't know about you, but the birth of my first child would have been cause for my excommunication from Scientology. The spinal block didn't take, and I had an emergency Caesarean section with the equivalent of the Novocain you'd use to numb a bad tooth. By the time the child arrived, I had my husband by the throat and was howling, "I want furniture and jewelry for this."

(The Cruise baby is a girl named Suri, meaning "princess" in Hebrew or "red rose" in Persian. We chose Joseph, meaning "Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.")

My second child arrived by emergency C-section as well, but the drugs were all in place, and I spent the delivery cheerfully chatting up the doctors. Though the tone of the conversation had changed, I still couldn't keep my mouth shut.

(We named this child Jessica, meaning "he named the boy, I am naming the girl.")

Women rightly consider the birth of their children an experience impossible to forget, and we tend to have little modesty when it comes to retelling the event with all its gory detail. My husband used to put his hand gently on my shoulder when I started regaling guests at cocktail parties.

All these years later, I am still talking about it, and I consider my howling demands to be the funniest part. Which makes me think Katie Holmes probably has quite the story to tell, whether she kept her mouth shut or not.

But if it is hard for a mother to keep silent during the birth of her children, it is just as hard for her to keep quiet during their growing up. It may not be a precept of Scientology, but it is a maxim of parenting that the more yapping you do at your kids, the less they hear.

Except for saying "I love you," mothers would be wise to choose the occasion and their words carefully, yet it is harder than suppressing the cries of pain during birth. If they would just listen to us ...

It is another precept of Scientology that Katie is supposed to leave the baby completely alone -- except for changing and feeding, I hope -- for two weeks after birth.

Seems to me that this is a lot like telling your children on Christmas morning that they must leave all their new toys behind and go and visit Grandma in her musty condo, but who am I to judge.

What Scientology might better advise is this: When your children are wrestling with their entry into a new life -- high school, college, work, marriage or their own parenthood -- leave them alone for a little while so they can begin to sort it out for themselves.


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