I just want to jump in and say how thankful I am to have found this thread! I agree with
, it is primarily up to you how you let reactions make you feel.
I share your struggle, as a first time Mom (soon to be 2nd time Mom!). DH and I lived across the country on our own when DD was born and were pretty much alone in making decisions and juggling it all for the first 18 months. We had no help from friends or sitters or family, and we did fine (though it was challenging at times!). We learned along the way what worked best for our family and dealt with very little in the way of judgement or what have you, though I did get a little of that whenever his parents came to visit, or we came home to visit. Mostly "why don't you just leave her with us" (when she wouldn't take a bottle and I didn't want to leave her) or "why don't you let me put her to sleep" (when she only wanted mama and maaaybe dada) or "get her on a schedule" (at 7 weeks old) or "she should be able to sleep anywhere, anytime" (at 8 months old to this very day!).
We have a very spirited, particular, wonderful daughter who thrives on routine and the perfect balance of activity and quiet. His family is very loud, rambunctious, and numerous, and while that is fun for her, too much of that causes her to be very cranky, fussy, and just disrupts our overall family vibe. We're used to a much quieter lifestyle (especially she and I). We moved back to this part of the country a few months ago (also in the South!) which has been wonderful for so many reasons, but it means that I see a lot more in the way of other people's expectations - specifically when it comes to visiting my in-laws. They seem to expect us to celebrate every holiday with them and were none too pleased when we didn't fall in line. They weren't vocal about it, but it was known. I felt an enormous amount of guilt when I said I didn't want to spend my Mother's Day at their house, since it meant a long car ride with my car-hating daughter, and of course, all the noise and chaos. They don't love that I prefer to keep my daughter at home for naps and have her home well before bedtime to avoid meltdowns - because her cousins (6 of them in one household) are so much more willing and able to sleep anywhere, anytime, and can stay up well past bedtime with no problem. My daughter does not share their laid back attitude - once when we kept her at their house late she cried and screamed "nighhh nightttt!" the entire way home, which was torture for me, knowing she should have been home and in her (our) bed long ago.
Sometimes I feel like I have to be preemptively defensive of my decisions, but I'm getting better at letting the guilt go, and knowing that I know my daughter better than they do and I know what is best for her. They had their time to raise their children as they saw fit, and now I have my time. I'm also getting better at loosening up on being such a control freak, because she is almost 2 and truly is getting better at letting other people put her to bed, or being away from mama, etc. It's still very hard for me because we haven't had a lot of experience leaving her with sitters or family. It's a learning process.
Long winded reply, I'm sorry, but I do understand the feelings you are having and just want you to know that it's okay to stand firm in your beliefs. There will be many more opportunities for you to feel guilt as a mother, and it's good practice now to learn to block out the naysayers or side-eyers and just trust that you were chosen as that baby's mother for a reason. Mama knows best!
Except Mama-in-law. Just kidding.