I'm also staying in a joint family. Note I also left my job when my kid was nearly 2. When my kid turned 1 and the problem got more and more unbearable, I started taking my kid away on all weekends to my mothers place, sometimes even taking leave from work and attending any functions in relatives place however far it is, cos thats the only way to get my childs sole attention.
Why should MIL make a fuss if her daughter in law wants to visit her parents place for a while??? If a person is not going to allow their daugher in law to even visit their parents place then I dont think there is not much of humanity in that person.
The reason a child will run back to their caretaker is why I had suggested on taking an extended leave/break and going to your parents place initally for a while. Once the child is attached to the mother, it wont happen that they will get attached to someone else more than the mom, since they will know the *meaning* of mom and not think that mom is just a name of a person like the others, . Initially the child does not know who the real mother is(or rather think its just mom by name) because they dont know that the meaning of mom is more special than any other person( unless the working woman has been feeding the child long enough). They just attach mom as a name to a person instead of signifying that mom means the most important person in his/her life. Now OP is going to be home for a while, so the bonding is going to only strengthen more instead of weakening even if the child sees her earlier caretaker.
Young kids dont forget. Its very important to set their thinking correctly about who mom really is and what does the term mom mean and working mothers who prematurely weaned off their kids have tougher challenges regarding this.. And toddler age is the period to set this thinking correctly. After that the child becomes independent and wont like to be with their caretaker much, but rather try to find friends among their peers. After that they start valuing their playtime with their peers more than just being with their caretaker. So the age when children *cling*, or the age of *separation anxiety* is the age when we need to correct the notion of young kids. There is a saying in tamil " iynthula velayadhadhu umbathulla velayadhu" which means " a child who cannot be changed when he is 5 years cannot be changed when he is 50". The childs developments are maximum and rapid upto the age of 5. The connections in the brain gets formed by this age, ie the neurons in the brain. The rate of learning in this period is very very high while after that it starts decreasing/aging. So its best that whatever values needs to be taught to the child should be done within this period.
1 year of break is absolutely no issue at all. The longer it goes, the more difficult it becomes. Of course, by all means, you could use the sabattical of 1 year if the company allows. But unfortunately my company dint, so I had to quit. Work at home is not going to work, atleast initially. Well later after you get settled, you can think of it, But work at home is going to be more challenging than working from office, unless you have got a very easygoing boss, a tailored work environment, and a project which has modules that you can work on independently from the others. Even then, there is challenge no man is an Island, and most would like to work in teams rather than alone and plus you have taken this time off to set another issue correct which is what you have to concentrate on first. So unless you are in your own business its going to be very difficult, and even having own business comes with its own set of challenges which is going to be very stressful in the beginning. So at the moment till things settle, i would recommend, *a complete off* by quitting or taking a sabatical from work if the co allows it.