I've always hoped to have a large family. So for years now, my ears have perked up whenever someone was discussing life in a large family, in hopes that I might pick up some tips.
One aspect of large family life I've tried to really prepare myself for is all the rude comments you get when you're out in public, especially - for some reason - at the grocery store. We've all probably heard the stories of having to fend off endless questions such as "Are they all yours?", "So are you done now?" and "You know what causes that, right?". I've read all the articles and blog posts about other mothers' frustrating experiences with strangers in the supermarket, and tried to memorize each of their suggested responses - the ones for days when I'm feeling charitable, as well as the ones for the days when I'm feeling snarky ;-)
But the strange thing I've come to realize is that the more children I have, the less comments I hear from strangers out in public. Occasionally, I run out to a store with just Flora while Tom watches the big kids. I feel like I can't walk down an aisle without at least one person telling me how cute and sweet the baby is. During the past schoolyear, Sly and Stella were both in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd class one morning a week. While they were in class, I'd often take the opportunity to run some errands with only half of my kids. I would still get quite a few comments about the two of them, and lots of people would ask Linus if he liked being a big brother, whether he loved his little sister, etc.
But most of the time, I have to take all four of them with me, subjecting ourselves to the possible scorn of whoever happens to be at the store that day...And I get nothing! I feel like people don't even look at us! It's like when you're out somewhere and notice a person who is somehow well outside the norm, and you try really hard not to look at them because you don't want to seem like you're staring....but then you're not natural at all, and it just makes things more awkward.
So I haven't really had the chance to be "tested" in the moment by a rude comment*, and see what sort of response - whether a snarky quip, sweet correction, or fumbling mumble - I might give.
I've pondered about this, wondering why no one has said anything rude about my family size yet. The positive way of looking at it is that perhaps I just give off an "air of confidence," and look like I know what I'm doing, so people don't feel the need to tell me how to live my life. A more negative way of looking at it is that perhaps my RBF ("resting bitch face," in case the term is unfamiliar.) deters them, because it gives off an air of "don't mess with me." Or maybe they do think my kids are cute and great, but are afraid to say so, because they don't want to encourage me to keep going :-P
*A I do, on occasion, hear the popular line, "you have your hands full!", but I don't think this is rude at all - it's quite true, actually. So I smile and reply, "yep, I do!"