Garth Brooks Worshipped His 3 Kids & Quit His Career for Them — He Felt Lost When They Moved Out
Garth Brooks made one of the biggest sacrifices of his life when he halted his career to be with his children after his divorce from his first wife and when they grew up and moved out, he felt lost. Here's how he filled the void.
Garth Brooks became a father for the first time in 1992 when he welcomed his first daughter with Sandy Mahl, the first woman he married. The two married in 1986 and expanded their family twice more with girls in 1994 and 1996.
The girls were named Taylor, August, and Allie, respectively, and being their father was a role Brooks did not joke with.
Garth Brooks speaks onstage during 2021 CMT Artist Of The Year at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
At the same time, he was a huge star on the country music scene and sold out millions of his albums; however, along the line, he realized that his career was interfering with his family life.
By the turn of the century, he had lost his wife, and his kids barely spent enough time with him. Being a father was a big deal for him, so the iconic singer decided to take a break from music when he and Mahl parted ways.
The year was 2000, and he told his fans that he would wait until his youngest child was college-age before he picked up the mic again.
American singer and songwriter Garth Brooks and his wife, American songwriter Sandy Mahl attend the 23rd Annual American Music Awards, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, 29th January 1996. | Source: Getty Images
It was his service as a father, one he could no longer put off because Mahl would no longer be there to tell his kids that he loved them but couldn't be there for them physically because he was working.
Knowing this, he made one of the greatest sacrifices in his life — he took a step back while he was at his peak.
A PROMISE HE COULD NOT KEEP
Garth Brooks attends the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. | Source: Getty Images
In 1992, while watching the Olympics with his first daughter, Taylor, Brooks made her a promise. He would be finished with music by the time she clocked six and started school — he missed it by two years.
By 2000, he had sold 100 million albums, had three young kids, and lost his wife. The only way he could think of to fix things was to announce his retirement from country music, and that's what he did.
Brooks knew some would not take his proclamation seriously, but he also knew they would not have the same thoughts a decade after hearing nothing from him.
American songwriter Sandy Mahl holding her daughter, August Anna, backstage at Garth Brook's concert date at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, 14th July 1994. | Source: Getty Images
At the time of his retirement, his daughters were all under the age of ten, and he knew he still had about 14 years to spend watching them grow up, and he was content to wait.
Yearwood was the one who reminded him about his former calling as a musician, and she urged him to start touring once more.
As the years flew by, the media continued to speculate about his potential return while Garth focused on his kids, cooking for them and getting them ready for school like any average parent.
Singer/Songwriter Allie Colleen Brooks, Daughter of Garth Brooks makes her Grand Ole Opry debut during Dr. Ralph Stanley Forever: A Special Tribute Concert at Grand Ole Opry House on October 19, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
Every day for those 14 years, Brooks and Mahl exchanged their daughters at precisely 6 p.m. and again the following the day when it was time for them to go to school.
The arrangement was a way to ensure that their daughters saw both their parents each morning and evening — something they knew was suitable for their kids. He said:
"If you did what was right for the kids, you were going to do what was right for you. It was simple."
Garth Brooks performs at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. | Source: Getty Images
Brooks raised his kids in a one-bathroom bunkhouse on a ranch he owned in Oklahoma after his mom Colleen passed away from cancer in 1999.
His behavior baffled many, and they would usually wonder how he could have walked away from music, but for him, being a father came first before his career, so he just did what he thought was right.
HE BECAME A TRUE FATHER IN DEED AND THOUGHT
Garth Brooks performs on stage at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on FOX at the Microsoft Theater on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
When he started spending time with his kids, Brooks did not know the kind of personalities his daughters had, but it was one of the first things he learned as he became more familiar with them.
He chose to mix discipline with fun and thrived as his days became dominated by things like packing school lunches he equipped with handwritten notes, chores on his ranch, and after-school activities, including school plays and sports.
Slowly, he became entangled in the community life fatherhood opened up to him. Rather than Garth Brooks, the singer, the other dads looked at him as Garth Brooks, the father, and he was very grateful for it.
Singer/Songwriter Allie Colleen Brooks, Daughter of Garth Brooks and first wife Sandy Brooks poses with her mom Sandy Brooks after making her Grand Ole Opry debut during Dr. Ralph Stanley Forever: A Special Tribute Concert at Grand Ole Opry House on October 19, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
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
Singer/Songwriter Allie Colleen Brooks (center) Daughter of Garth Brooks and first wife Sandy Brooks poses with her stepmom Singer/Songwriter Trisha Yearwood and dad Singer/Songwriter Garth Brooks after making her Grand Ole Opry debut during Dr. Ralph Stanley Forever: A Special Tribute Concert at Grand Ole Opry House on October 19, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
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."
Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks attends the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. | Source: Getty Images
Yearwood was the one who reminded him about his former calling as a musician, and she urged him to start touring once more. The very thought petrified the talented singer; however, in 2015, he honored her suggestion.
After 14 years away from the stage, Brooks returned to music with Yearwood by his side, and it helped him fill the void that the exit of his children had created. He said:
"Thank God I'm with the love of my life. That's why I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be."
risha Yearwood and Garth Brooks attend the "Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On" Biography Celebration at The Bowery Hotel on November 18, 2019 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
The two continued to tour together, and Brooks could once more enjoy something he had always loved doing, knowing that it did not cost him his children.