The more shocked glances or comments I got when friends found out I was reading a memoir by the mother of Brittany and Jamie Lynn Spears, the more desire I had to get into the meat of it and find out what was really behind this family.
Not surprising, as most people from both sides find out in an election cycle, the media has portrayed Lynne and the Spears family as a whole in a deceptively negative light. After all, what sells more tabloid magazines - an everyday mom struggling to regain control of the whirlwind that has completely changed life as she knew it, or an out-of-control stage mom hungry for a bigger slice of the pie?
What stood out to me the most in this book was the consistent theme of the snowflake turning into the snowball. We all take that seemingly innocent step down the slippery slope, thinking we are still in control, only to find that the hill sucks us downward, and soon we are spiralling out of control down the hill.
I could see this theme in Brittany's first photo shoot, which turned into the infamous Rolling Stone spread in her underclothes. The Spears were naive enough not to take control of the photo shoot, as well as not demand oversight of the photos that would be used. So many times, Lynne seemed to allow big entertainment executives to chip away at her self-confidence as a mom, telling her that she wasn't experienced enough in show business to be making the decisions. The problem was, whether she was experienced or not, show business was making the mom decisions.
The same was true for the times when Jamie Lynn was shooting in L.A. I assume, trying to give her daughter as normal a life as possible, it seemed reasonable to let the boyfriend come over. Unfortunately, in order for the boyfriend to come over, he had to fly in and stay over. Lynne put him in the guest room, and expected the children to be respectful of the privilege they had been given. We have all seen the result in the headlines - Jamie Lynne's unplanned teen pregnancy and a mom who stood by and allowed it to happen. So, I ask again, what sells more papers? A mom who made some shaky decisions in pursuit of normalcy, or a mom who encouraged her teenage daughter to live with her boyfriend while she was shooting her TV show?
There is no doubt that Lynne made many mistakes along the paths of fame of her two legendary daughters. She admits to them. After reading this book, I have no doubt she'd trade it all for the very normal life she could be leading - hangin' out in the church pew behind Brittany's 2.5 kids and getting ready to send Jamie Lynn off to community college or something.
I have a son who has wanted nothing more in his young life than to be a professional baseball star. Yeah, I know - chance in a million. So was Brittany.
Lynn has been criticized from the very beginning of Brittany's career - allowing her to compete in singing competitions throughout the region, perform on Broadway when she was 10, and audition for the Mickey Mouse Club when she was 13. None of these are actions a "normal" mom, as she's claiming to be, would do for their children. She should have known better.
Now, I realize the rest of this is going to be a stretch, but I'm asking you to go with me. Next summer, we will face the daunting decision of allowing our 9-year-old son to try out for all-star baseball and start living his dream. He's good - he'll very likely make it. If we decide to go down this path, every night, we will practice, and every weekend for months (as long as the team wins and isn't eliminated), we will travel around the region to watch him play. If they are exceptional, we will travel even farther. If they are beyond exceptional, we will travel to the Little League World Series. We will have done all this so a 9-year-old boy can follow his dream. Too much, too young, you say? Frankly, so do I. But, you aren't the one who has to look into those eyes, already filled with dreams of Yankee Stadium and the World Series, that his dream isn't what's best for our family right now.
So, I have to ask myself, what decisions am I making right now that are either keeping us on the path, or are the possible first step down the slippery slope? Are my snowflakes building a snowball of faith, support, good decisions, and dependability; or will they be tossed into a furious storm that is out of my control before I know it?
I am so thankful for the opportunity to read this book. I can relate to Lynne - mainly because whether or not the world agrees, I think both my children have that 1 in 1,000,000 shot. And, if they believe they are fulfilling their calling and using their God-given gifts to the best of their ability, I will support them 100%.
But, in part thanks to this book, I may guard each decision a little better. I may hold close every step I take, making sure I'm not headed toward that slope. And, I will listen to that voice inside of me that is their mother, whether the "experts" around me think I'm a crazy small-town redneck or not.
Thanks for the read, Thomas Nelson. Another winner.