House of Testosterone - One Mom’s Survival in a Household of Males


House of TestosteroneA humor book by Sharon O’Donnell, developer of

Published by Houghton Mifflin Books.

“House of Testosterone” is for all those mothers who live in a constant quandary of figuring out the husbands and sons in their lives. It’s especially for those moms who are outnumbered by males in their own household and find themselves struggling to retain their identity as a woman and their sanity as a human being. There’s the bathroom jokes, roughhousing, miscommunication, and sports (or Power Rangers) on TV all the time.

Forget those reality shows set in the jungle; the real question is how does the lady of the house survive? This is a close-up look at the mayhem of marriage and motherhood that all wives and mothers can relate to, particularly those with sons.

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Media Coverage

Cary Living Magazine, May/June, 2007 Issue (Click for PDF of entire article)
Used with permission of Christa Gala

Cary Living Article

I've Got Males
New York Daily News, Feb. 15, 2007
I've Got Males
Burlington Times-News by Charity Apple (May 13, 2007)
I've Got Males
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC – columnist Ruth Sheehan/ November, 2007

  • Watch Sharon's House of Testosterone interview on "View From The Bay" ABC-7 San Francisco - 04/02/2008
  • Radio Interview on B98.5 (MP3)
  • KDAT Morning Show Interview (MP3)
  • WUNC Radio Interview, The State of Things, 1/10/07
  • WPTF, Raleigh, NC, The Bob Langford Show – hour-long segment – January, 2007
  • The Bob and Sheri syndicated radio show out of Charlotte, NC – Jan. 31, 2007
  • The ABC Radio Networks adult contemporary format station, contact in Dallas, TX – Feb. 28, 2007
  • The Radio Ritas show - New York City, syndicated, March 1, 2007
  • WKCT, Bowling Green, KY, Drive Time with Roy Brassfield, producer, Alan Palmer, April 9, 2007
  • WMAG, Greensboro, NC, Bill Flynn, April, 2007
  • KDAT, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jamie Larson and Lou, May 11, 2007
  • KDKA, Pittsburgh, PA, Life Lounge with Carol Lee Espy, the Talkologist of one of Pittsburgh's most unique radio programs.May, 2007
  • B98, Little Rock, Arkansas – with Lisa Fischer, Kevin Miller, and Jeff Matthews, May 14th, 2007
  • KLTQ – Omaha, NE, with Kay Criss and Jack, May, 2007
  • WRAL-FM – Raleigh, NC with Bill and Sheri, May 17th, 2007


  • WGHP, Greensboro/High Point, NC, April 17th, 2007, morning news interview with Shannon Smith

"Love & Marriage" excerpt from brand new essay in paperback

On Valentine’s Day in 1985, I introduced myself to the man who is now my husband. I had been chosen to tape a video personal on a local TV show, ‘PM Magazine’ during a Valentine’s promotion. I was working in radio promotions and never had time for a social life on the weekends. So I participated in the show’s Valentine’s promotion in which they selected people to -- well -- basically beg for dates over the airwaves (it gets to a point where you have no pride).

Kevin saw the personal video spot on Valentine’s Day and responded by letter. A few weeks later, the station sent me a bag of letters from people who wanted to meet me. It was great fun reading through them all. I received quite a few letters from men in prison, and some of the letters were heart-wrenching, but they just weren’t quite the date material I was looking for. Several of the prisoners proclaimed their innocence to me: ‘I’m doing thirty years for manslaughter, but I didn’t do it’. Others snuck their prison sentence in like this: ‘I love to play tennis, watch movies, I’m serving a life sentence for murder, and I’m a big NFL fan.’

I’d had pen pals in prison before through an outreach program, but I didn’t think the chances were good that I’d find my Mr. Right there. After discarding the prison letters, I concentrated on about ten letters that I really liked. I called a few of the guys on the phone, had some delightful conversations, and set up a few ‘meet for drinks’ kind of dates. When I talked to Kevin, we talked for almost two hours (which is probably the total time we’ve talked in the last five years of our marriage). We were comfortable with each other, although Kevin still says that the only reason I wound up with him was because he seemed like a good catch when compared to the prisoners.

About a month later, the TV station called, wanting us to record a story update out at Pullen Park, a city park that’s very picturesque. Kevin balked at the idea, but I said, “Oh yeah, I did agree to something about an update when I signed the release form.”

“What else did you do?” Kevin asked. “Promise them our firstborn?”

We look back at those taped “PM Magazine” shows and marvel about how things turned out (we also marvel about how incredibly young we looked). Many years and three children later, we cannot imagine how our lives would be had I not mustered up my nerve to appear on the show or he not responded with a letter. It amazes me how two people are brought together.

After we had dated for two years, I suspected that Christmas of 1986 might bring a marriage proposal and a ring as a gift. When Kevin presented me with an exercise bike in a huge cardboard box, I thought what a clever way it was to disguise the ‘real’ gift by putting the ring case somewhere inside. I giddily tore through the cardboard pieces and plastic bags, looked in every crevice of the bike itself, but I couldn’t find the ring. Finally, after ripping through everything in sight, I realized there was no ring and yes, he’d actually given me an exercise bike for Christmas. I had wanted one but preferably not as a gift from my boyfriend.

That following Easter he gave me an Easter basket filled with plastic eggs, and in one of them there amidst the jellybeans – ta-da! – was the engagement ring I’d been anticipating. Kind of a neat way to pop the question, even though he admitted it’d been his sister’s idea.

When Kevin and I got married, his friends planned a bachelor party for him, as was the tradition; bachelorette parties were not done a lot then, so I had to suffice with bridal showers, which, while lovely, were not on par with the whole concept of the bachelor party. I’m glad there are now similar parties for the bride; I might not have decided to have one back then, but I would have liked having the option. I never appreciated the implication the groom’s party was to celebrate one last night of his fleeting freedom before he was tied down to the old ball and chain, while the bride was supposed to stay at home and do her nails or write thank-you notes, simply happy to have the grand opportunity to marry Mr. Wonderful. Did nobody stop to consider the bride would also be giving up this very same freedom and would now and forever be married to a man who would never again buy his own underwear? It’s as if society thinks men getting married are embarking on a voyage on the Titanic, while the bride is beginning a magical cruise of a lifetime with all-inclusive meals and massages.

I beg to differ.


From the introduction:

I am the only female in a house of four males and that in itself gives me a certain perspective on how the sexes can – or can’t – get along peacefully in the same house. Once at a dinner with a medieval theme, each couple had to be announced as they arrived; much to my husband’s chagrin, we were asked to quickly come up with a medieval title for the two of us. “That’s easy,” I assured him.

When we were introduced by a young lady with an English accent as “The King and Queen of the House of Testosterone”, there were a lot of knowing laughs in the audience of diners.

Partial column: "Are You Going to Try for a Girl?

Click here to read this partial column.

From “Sure Signs You're the Mother of Boys”

  • you automatically wipe off the toilet seat before you sit down
  • your weekend schedule includes more total hours of little league sports than it does sleep
  • the lamp in your family room is held together by Super Glue in three places
  • you can carry on a conversation about athletic cup sizes with the college-aged guy at the sporting goods store with no embarrassment whatsoever

From “As Time Goes By”

When Jason was about a year old, he was playing on the floor one night, wrestling with his brothers. He was grinning from ear-to-ear, his blond hair tousled. Billy, then 10, sat up and gazed at Jason, a look of pure love on his face. He turned to me and said wistfully, “I’m going to miss him when he’s not a baby anymore, ya know?”

I stared at Billy, my firstborn, who was so tall he wore a size 16. “Yeah, Billy,” I whispered, smiling slightly. “I know.”