When Garth Brooks announced his retirement from country music in 2000, he explained that he wanted to step away from his career in order to focus on raising his three daughters, Taylor, August and Allie. Just two weeks later, he filed for divorce from his then-wife, Sandy, whom he had married in 1986.

Even though their marriage was coming to an end, Brooks and Sandy remained committed to co-parenting their children well, the singer explains to the Tennesseean in a new interview. In fact, becoming a single dad made it more important than ever to focus on his role as a dad.

"Sandy is kind of doing my job and her job with the girls. If Sandy is doing her job, she's telling them, 'Hey, your dad loves you to death. He's just working, and he'll be home soon,'" Brooks relates. "Well, I didn't have anybody to do that anymore."

At the time, his daughters were 4, 6 and 8 years old. Although his decision to retire may have seemed abrupt, and many in the music industry questioned how serious he was about it, Brooks says that focusing on his family had always been part of the plan, even when things in his marriage were going well. Back in 1992, when his oldest daughter was an infant, he'd promised her that he would be around full-time by the time she started school.

"I said, 'Look, by the time you're six years old, that's when school starts, I'll be done,'" he remembers. "I missed it by two years."

Getting divorced meant that the retirement he'd long planned didn't look exactly the way Brooks thought it might. However, he and Sandy bent over backwards in order to keep their kids' lives as normal as possible. Almost every day for 14 years, until their youngest child turned 18, they exchanged their kids at 6pm. The girls alternated parents each night.

"They saw both their parents in the morning and both their parents in the evening, and for 14 years," Brooks explains. "That was how we ran it, because we knew it was right for those kids. If you did what was right for the kids, you were going to do what was right for you. It was simple."

Though stepping mostly out of the spotlight was a big adjustment, Brooks had said that the years he focused on parenthood were some of the best of his life. "I've got to tell you, that first soccer game you go to as a dad is the greatest moment of my life," he told The Boot in 2010. "And to think of a chance of missing that would just break my heart."

In 2014, the same year that his youngest daughter graduated from high school, Brooks returned to the spotlight with a world tour. Since then, he's remained at the center of the country music scene, taking home his seventh career Entertainer of the Year trophy at the 2019 CMA Awards.

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