From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
There she was, bleeding profusely from her right hand after a car sideswiped her on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles last August. But Mayim Bialik wasn't freaking out. The former Blossom actress, who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience during an extended hiatus from acting, "knew as a scientist that I would lose more blood if I panicked and raised my heart rate," she says. On her way back from a shoot with full hair and makeup, "I removed my false eyelashes with my good hand. I realized I might pass out and they'd give me an MRI, so I took out my bobby pins. I was very lucid," she recalls with a laugh. "I had a very 'Mayim' response."

Such "Mayim" moments-handling high drama with a laserlike focus-have become commonplace for the actress, 37, over the past year. She scored an Emmy nomination for her role as a regular on TV's highest-rated comedy, The Big Bang Theory. But as her career went from dormant to red-carpet hot, her marriage to Michael Stone, 37, a stay-at-home father, was falling apart. In December she filed for divorce after nine years and two sons, Miles, 6, and Fred, 4, together. Tabloid speculation for the split quickly centered on Bialik's parenting style-a proponent of attachment parenting, she breast-fed her youngest son until age 4, has always had the boys share the parental bed and is currently homeschooling them with the help of others-as well as her modern Orthodox Jewish faith (Stone, a former Mormon, converted when they wed). Bialik says assigning blame isn't so easy. "There were multiple factors," she says simply. Ending her marriage "was sad and scary. It's a tremendously painful thing." As for the attacks on her parenting, "my philosophy might not work for you, but we don't need to make this a mommy war," she says. Not that criticism of her choices has any chance of changing her. "Mayim is her own person doing things the way she believes they should be done," says her Big Bang costar Jim Parsons. "She is very loving and very, very strong."

Now she's facing a new life as a single-and working-mom. "My life is like The Cat in the Hat: balancing the spinning ball, plates, a teacup. Everything is up in the air," says Bialik. One respite has been a return to running, "as a way to take care of myself for once," she explains. Not one to hire a nanny, she has continued relying on Stone, with whom she shares custody, when she has to work. "We will always tag-team when it comes to parenting. We have good communication, which is so important."

Bialik has also depended on her faith for support. "I think a lot about the notion that there is always tomorrow and that it ultimately will be okay," says Bialik. Still, she is hesitant to think too far ahead. "They say, 'Man plans and God laughs,'" she says. "That really describes my life right now."