How Jamie Lynn Spears Changed Her Life for Daughter Maddie: In Her Own Words

"She's got such a sweet little heart," Spears previously told PEOPLE of her daughter, who is now "awake and talking" after a devastating ATV accident

Jamie Lynn Spears‘ life changed forever — and for the better — when she found out in 2007 that, at just 16 years old, she was pregnant with her daughter, whom she welcomed in June of 2008.

Last summer, PEOPLE caught up with Spears, 25. The country music singer-songwriter opened up about her life with husband Jamie Watson and her deep love for 8-year-old Maddie, who is now “awake and talking” and doesn’t appear to have suffered “any neurological consequences” after a devastating ATV accident Sunday at their home in Louisiana.

Below, Spears’ moving quotes on motherhood and the profound impact parenting has had on her life.

From the moment Spears’ learned of her pregnancy, motherhood was her main priority.

Spears found out she was pregnant in 2007, after she’d finished filming her hit Nickelodeon series Zooey 101.

“I put myself in an adult situation, so I needed to handle it like an adult. My age was never an excuse for me — because, you know what, my daughter didn’t ask for that,” Spears said. “I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I didn’t have any pity for myself; I made a decision, and it was time for me to hold up my end of the bargain. I brought this little girl into this world ,and it’s my job to make sure that she has the best life that she possibly can have — no one else’s. You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions and that’s what I try my best to do every single day.”

She left Hollywood to make a happy home for her child.

“I needed to step away from the noise of the world and just focus on growing up and becoming the best mother,” she told PEOPLE of sequestering herself with family in her native Louisiana. “And learning how to be an independent woman as well, for my daughter. I knew that I didn’t need the outside world to do that. I really needed to remove myself from that. When my daughter was three months old, I started going to Nashville and writing, and that’s when I really started figuring out who I was and what kind of future I wanted — and I grew a lot, not only through writing, but also through being a bit more private.”

Motherhood helped Spears find her voice — and herself.

“I like to say that having my daughter gave me a different kind of voice,” she said. “When you have to be strong not only for yourself but for someone else, you grow a whole other layer of skin that you can’t even imagine. And I think that when you go into that kind of mode, it just turns you into a person that isn’t afraid to speak up — because if I don’t, it could affect my daughter. I was always outspoken as a young girl, but it was more in a playful way, and now when I speak, I try to be a bit more directed. That strength comes from me being a mother, and I think that’s really what instilled a different kind of strength for me.”

Maddie is her mini-me…

“She does taker after me. She’s very particular about certain things like I am, like in little OCD ways,” Spears previously told PEOPLE of Maddie. “She’s got such a sweet little heart. I feel like I’ve raised her with a lot of honesty, but I’ve also raised her with a lot of love. She’s a very happy, content little girl, and there’s nothing more a parent could ask for. That’s my most proud accomplishment out of anything and always will be.”

…and also one of her muses.

“I think [songwriting] is all about being true with yourself,” Spears said of knowing when she was ready to return to work and pursue songwriting in Nashville. “You can’t go out there and stand in front of a bunch of people and expect them to believe you if you don’t believe what you’re saying. For me it was really important to make sure when I stood in front of a crowd that I was up there for a reason and with a purpose. And when I finally got to that place with that confidence, that’s when I knew it was time. I knew that I was ready.”

Indeed, Spears was inspired by her bond with Maddie and wrote the emotional track “When the Lights Go Out” shortly after she and Maddie’s dad, her ex Casey Aldridge, split in 2010.

Despite her fame, she decided early on to keep her daughter grounded.

“She was born into watching her aunt perform and she was born knowing her mom was on TV sometimes. So I think for her, that is her normal: ‘It’s not bizarre — this is what my family does for a job, this is how my mom provides for me. I think that’s how it registers it to her,” Spears told PEOPLE.

Even so, the famous mom said she lets her daughter relish award shows that she’s attended, like last year’s Billboard Music Awards, where aunt Britney Spears performed and received the Millennium Award.

“She loves it. We’re at an award show, and she’s more concerned about, ‘Hey, am I gonna get to see Fifth Harmony?’ She’s just like any other little kid. It’s not about, ‘Oh, my aunt does this or my mom does this.’ It’s just about, ‘Oh my god, these people that I love are here! Can I see them, Mom?’ We keep her really grounded about that — that every bit of it is so amazing, and we’re there as fans as well. And I think as long as you remind your kids to be very humble and be very appreciative every time and to never not get excited is really important. So she’s just like any other little kid. She walks in there and is just like, ‘Oh my gosh, Ariana Grande is gonna be here!’ It’s not about anything else.”

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