Britney Spears' mother Lynne appeared on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday morning (September 17) and spoke candidly about what it was like to watch her daughter's rise from hometown girl to global superstar. Among many strong statements, Lynne said, "It's kind of like Britney was sent out into the world a little bit prematurely," adding that she was never a stage mom: "Britney pushed me."
Lynne, who was on the show to promote her just-released book, "Through the Storm" (which was originally planned as a parenting book), hopes that the book will help people "to see our family as we really are."
She recalled the early days of her daughter's success, noting the bad that can come with the good. "There's the honeymoon phase at first. Everything is fabulous: 'Look at the wonderful trips she gets to go on; look at the wonderful people she's meeting,' " Spears said. "Then there's the ugly side of things that turns, and we weren't ready for that, either."
Lynne says things started to take that ugly turn when she and her husband, Jamie, began having marital problems and eventually divorced. "It was so crazy at that time," she recalled. "I don't think anybody was trying to sit and think what was going on."
She also encouraged her youngest child, Jamie Lynn, to go into show business around that time. She said, "When Jamie Lynn got involved in it, that was during the honeymoon period of Britney's career, when everything was coming up roses. ... Everything was just fun."
Earlier this year, things took a turn for the worse when Britney was twice hospitalized for psychiatric problems and Jamie Lynn, Britney's then 16-year-old sister and a television star, announced she was pregnant. "We were praying very hard, because it seemed like we were having no control over anything that was happening," Lynne said. "We were trying."
She said that when Jamie Lynn told her she was pregnant, she was "waiting for the punch line. I was in shock. I think I was just truly in shock, and then I started to cry. And she started consoling me at that point.
"A mother is as happy as her most unhappy child," Lynne continued. "You kind of gravitate toward the one who needs you the most at that time. ... It's a balancing act. Maybe I haven't done it as best as I could, but all I can ever tell you is I tried."
Lynne said she blames herself for the problems her family has endured since Britney's rise to fame. "As a mother, don't we always blame ourselves?" she said. "I took a lot of the blame. I took all the blame. The personality I have, it's always my fault."
And she admitted she owes thanks to her ex-husband Jamie, who, after finding sobriety and gaining control of Britney's affairs, has apparently helped his daughter to settle down.
"I have sat for hours, thinking and thinking about everything that's happened," she said. "It's been a whirlwind. When you mix extreme heightened celebrity-hood and then when you have heartache. ... The mixture's just not healthy," she said.
"It's been a whirlwind," she added. "It's been a wild ride for everybody."
Lynne also said she knows that in the end, Britney has the strength to be an independent adult. "She's strong," Lynne said. "She's resilient. She's had some big bumps in the road, but Britney's fine. Britney is headed to the top once again. I have no fears about Britney."
However, Lynne added that she does worry about Britney's status as a constant media target. "I don't think the media's fair to Britney, to criticize her as much as they do."
Referencing her book's title, "Through the Storm," Al Roker asked Lynne: "Are you through the storm?"
"Oh, yes," Lynne said. "We're through the storm and we're looking at the sunshine right now."