In 1992, Garth Brooks welcomed his first daughter with Sandy Mahl, the first woman he married, marking the beginning of his fatherhood. In 1986, the couple married, and in 1994 and 1996, they had two additional daughters.
The girls’ names were Taylor, August, and Allie, and Brooks took his duty as their father very seriously.
He was a great success in the country music industry at the same time and sold millions of CDs, but over time he came to recognize that his job was interfering with his family life.
He had lost his wife by the turn of the century, and his children seldom ever saw him. When he and Mahl split up, the legendary singer made the decision to take a hiatus from singing because fatherhood was such a major matter for him.
In 2000, he promised his audience that he wouldn’t perform again until his youngest child had reached college age.
Mahl would no longer be there to tell his children that he loved them but couldn’t be there for them physically because he was working, thus he could no longer put off doing his duty as a father.
He took a step back while he was at his best knowing this, and it was one of the greatest sacrifices of his life.
When Brooks and his first daughter Taylor were watching the Olympics in 1992, he made a promise to her. He missed it by two years because he would have finished music by the time she turned six and began school.
He had three young children, sold 100 million albums, and lost his wife before the year 2000.
His children were all under ten years old at the time of his retirement, and he knew he still had about 14 years to watch them grow up, so he was pleased to wait.
Yearwood encouraged him to resume traveling when she reminded him of his previous calling as a musician.
While Garth focused on his children, cooking for them and getting them ready for school like any other father would, the media continued to make predictions about his possible comeback as the years passed.
For those fourteen years, Brooks and Mahl switched their girls every day at precisely six o’clock in the evening and again the next morning when it was time for them to leave for school.
The plan was to guarantee that their daughters saw both of their parents every morning and every evening, which they thought was best for their children. He stated:
“You would act in your own best interests if you did what was right for the children. It was easy.”
After his mother, Colleen, passed away from cancer in 1999, Brooks raised his children in a bunkhouse on a ranch that he owned in Oklahoma. The bunkhouse only had one bathroom.
But for him, being a father came first before his career, so he just did what he thought was right. His behavior baffled many people, and they would usually wonder how he could have walked away from music. But for him, being a father came first before his career.
In both word and deed, he matured into the role of a real father.
Brooks did not know what kind of personality his girls had when he first started spending time with them, but he quickly understood this to be one of the first things he discovered about them as he became more familiar with them.
He made the conscious decision to combine work and play, and as a result, he flourished despite the fact that his days were filled with activities such as preparing lunches for school, which he supplemented with handwritten notes, performing chores on his ranch, and participating in after-school activities, such as school plays and sports.
Slowly but surely, he got entrenched in the newfound sense of community that fatherhood afforded him. The other fathers viewed him more as Garth Brooks, the father, as opposed to Garth Brooks, the singer, and he was extremely appreciative of this change in perception.
In those years, his children were the center of his universe, and he worshipped them and learned many lessons from them. One important lesson he learned as a father was that no matter what he did as a parent, he would never be able to control who they grew up to be.
Brooks believed that as long as they were healthy, he would be good, but the lessons he picked up did not prepare him for the heartache he had to endure when the girls grew up and the time came for them to move out.
HE STRUGGLED AFTER THEY MOVED OUT
After his kids graduated high school, Brooks became more prayerful because he could feel his little control over them while they lived under his roof slipping away.
After they moved out, his life lost purpose, and Brooks had no idea what he would do with himself. Fortunately, he had found love again in a woman named Trisha Yearwood, and she picked up on his despair. He once said about the dark period:
“I just didn’t know what I was gonna do with myself. The love of my life figured out it was hurting me.”
Yearwood was the one who brought up his prior career as a musician, and she was the one who encouraged him to resume his touring career after she had brought it to his attention. The talented singer was absolutely scared by the whole concept; but, in 2015, he honored her advice and did it.
After taking a break from performing for 14 years, Brooks eventually returned to music with Yearwood by his side. This enabled him to begin to fill the void left by the departure of his children from his life. He said:
“I give thanks that I am with the one who has been the love of my life. Because of this, I am confident that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”
They continued to travel together, and Brooks was finally able to take pleasure in something he had always cherished doing, secure in the knowledge that he would not have to sacrifice his relationship with his children as a result.