All is calm. Rather quiet. The bathroom's free. Sally and I are talking a lot more. We are not Packed to the Rafters any more. The kids are gone.
Our daughter, son-in-law and mokopuna have migrated to Brisbane, Australia. Yes, it's happened. It wasn't what I had anticipated when they moved in with the objective of saving a deposit for a house. However, as the cliché goes, 'if you love them, let them go' (and they will be back for their Marmite toast).
I do miss the male company of Sharif in otherwise wahine-dominated work and home environments. I miss our cooking marathons + braised beef cheek and watercress burgers, pulled pork tacos and Fijian curries, not to mention slipping him the odd red hot chilli for my own amusement.
I miss my daughter's scathing humour as we take glee in the critical analysis of what other people are wearing.
But of course it's our mokopuna we really miss — our redheaded Ngapuhi ginger ninja with her blistering tantrums, fierce kisses and hugs.
It is nice to have our house back, to be fair. Simple things, such as daily routines, fall back into place. A certain relaxed demeanour has engulfed the household. I can put pots of boiling water on the front of the stove without flinching at the worst-case scenario. I am not worried about stepping on pointy hard toys. Clothing can be abandoned when I choose.
Yes, all is quiet, all is calm. Leading up to their departure to New Zealand's bigger, meaner cousin, we had a lot going on. There was my birthday, a day the rest of my family dreads because of my indulgent demands throughout the day. (Well, people need to know what you want at least one day a year.)
I had my MRI, which worked this time because they put me under general anaesthetic (and I am happy to report everyone at Whangarei Hospital I came in contact with were respectful). Work had its moments.
The trip down to Auckland airport for an elongated farewell was emotionally draining, to say the least.
My wife in her wisdom had booked us in at the Omapere Copthorne Hotel & Resort in the Hokianga last weekend, both for my birthday, and for some respite after the preceding couple of harrowing weeks.
Of course, we had a great time. I love Omapere with its sandy coloured toetoe and massive sand dunes, providing a backdrop to the wicked harbour mouth.
After days of indulgence, spa, swimming pool, eating out and cocktails, I was ready for some quiet home life.
I am now investing in a routine of wellbeing. Morning exercise. Regular meditation. Low GI vegetable soup throughout the week.
Yes, routine as usual, let's see how long it lasts. Feels good.
And quiet, very quiet…perfect conditions to prepare for that upcoming holiday in Brizzie…
■ Jonny Wilkinson is the CEO of Tiaho Trust — Disability A Matter of Perception, a Whangarei-based advocacy organisation.