I am very careful how I respond. i'm pregnant with number 8 and i find a lot of the comments tiresome and annoying, but I don't think they are being said in a spirit of meanness. I think people don't actually know how to react and they obviously notice us :)
there are a couple of categories of questions and my answer depends on where I think the question falls within those:
1. The "pack"... you know those 2 BFF or 3 or however many corner you in the store. And actually they are asking you questions and kind of egging each other on. Often this turns to meanness quickly if it didn't start out that way.
My answers are basically just: "Yes, we are very blessed. They are great kids. I enjoy them very much. Yes, we're very busy, but we love it." etc etc. etc. Everything is very neutral and given with a big smile, but I'm not giving them any "fodder".
In this category are also those people who are just plain mean: The ones who attack you about your affect on the environment etc. without knowing anything about your family, etc.
I usually just smile, say something nice and move on.
2. The Family/Friends who think they have a right to say something. Usually they actually comment out of concern for you.
"Thank you for your concern. We are comfortable with our decisions. How was your holiday?"
I acknowledge their concern. Tell them it is fine and then pass the bean dip. Wash, rinse, repeat :)
3. Men (and sometimes women) who make totally inappropriate comments.
"Yup, we know what causes it, and we like it!'
Or something along those lines. Big smiles and move on.
4. That single stranger who says something and it is kind of a "if I had a $1 for everytime someone said something like that I could send all my kids to college tomorrow" moment:
"Yes, we are very blessed!"
How do you cope? I can't even cope with the 2 I have
"Lots of times on my knees (if you're a Christian) and it does get easier!"
Well, my gran told me that it gets easier because the older ones basically raise the younger ones.
"Well, I appreciate the help of my older children, but I guard against turning them into mini-parents or giving them too much responsibility"
how can you possibly afford them?
"Wow! I'm not used to people asking about something as private as our finances, but we budget carefully" (the rebuke for interfering in our business is there, but not rude)
You should have a TV programme like the Duggars
"Oh no! Please not! We're way too normal" Big laugh
I really try not to be mean or sarcastic. When I had 2 children, I met this family with 12 kids. Their eldest daughter had 5 kids. I remember going to them and saying:
"Wow, you have 12 and 5 kids!" I was flabbergasted. They were so sweet and did the while: "Yes, we're so blessed" thing.
Years later as I look back on that moment and I'm grateful for their kindness towards me and my total ignorance.
I must admit that the comments/attitude of people bothered me way more when I had 4 or 5 kids than it does now.
As for the poster who thinks that we needs a procreation police that makes sure all prospective parents fit the criteria: Um, nope, I don't think so. :) :) :) It is kind of preposterous to me that someone would fail to see the danger in allowing something like this that would endanger the freedom of all! I'm also not huge on building a "super race", it smacks too much of some people in history.