I'm becoming sure my mother was a child of a narcissist too, but never dealt with it. Instead, she married one, a much worse specimen. This was all she knew.
When she complained to others about anything at all, it was about how her mother wasn't getting her due credit. Her possibly narcissistic mother, who was living with us, was the one babysitting me when I wasn't going to daycare (although she thankfully made her husband take me with him on his daily meanderings through the city, which were the fun part of my childhood), and she didn't feel she was seen as important enough, what with my narcissistic father claiming me and controlling me completely, and his narcissistic mother agreeing to meet me for a photo-shoot of "look, we're taking our granddaughter to the park!"
(All these narcissists were just using me as prey, as a chessboard, as the territory they could fight over and claim. Who did the most for me? Who got to control me? Who was I supposed to be most grateful to? Dear God, I remember people telling me in whispers things that were supposed to make me love them more and be grateful to them more than the others. Well, I showed them. I didn't love any of them. I shut down. They all gave me the creeps. I became cold and emotionally reserved and cynical. Around them, anyway.)
It was still all about her mother. Who demanded her due. Rarely about her. Who got her baby basically taken away from her. She wasn't even allowed to nurse me. She tried, realized she had inverted nipples, and bought a nipple shield. My father, the engineer, who wouldn't let me touch a toy before he read the manual, then figured it out himself (playing with it on his own for a while), then gave me an hour-long tutorial, after which the toy would lose all its appeal, that insane technically minded man who read all the manuals in the world for everyone else, forgot to pierce a hole in the nipple shield. And this was only ascertained much later. And not by him. He claimed the baby, i.e. me, was too weak to nurse because she's starving, and that's why the nipple shield wasn't working. So he promptly bought a bottle and formula and "saved" me. He didn't forget to put a hole through the nipple of the bottle, interestingly enough. So he sabotaged our nursing relationship, like he sabotaged our every relationship from the very start.
But she didn't complain much about him appropriating me. She claimed to her friend that I'd "saved" her from the daily visits to her MIL. Because my father focused on me, he didn't pay the daily pilgrimages to his mother any more. It was cute when I first heard this. But now I resent it. I wasn't born to save anyone. If she wanted saving from her MIL, she should have refused to go. Or, better yet, she should have divorced that horrible woman's son. I was a baby and wasn't supposed to be saving family members from each other or be used as a pawn in their games. I needed saving myself.
Then, she had "fleas" of her own. She was used to being constantly criticized and didn't mind being the butt of cruel jokes. But she had so much riding on appearances in front of others, appearances that were supposed to be kept up by me. Her mother was a lady and looks mattered to her, and my mother internalized this. Not just being pretty, no, you had to suffer in some way, wear uncomfortable clothes because they looked fancy and lady-like. I remember a horrible cap that hurt and itched and got etched into my forehead, and I kept taking it off, crying, but my mother kept putting it on, because it was pretty. There was the oft-told incident of how my mother spanked me into wearing a pretty dress that I didn't want to wear outside because I knew it meant No Playing, Just Posing. I remember being as old as nine and going for a walk with my mother and my cousin and having to be dressed nicely. When we got to the park, we started climbing trees, and my pants got dirty. We immediately had to leave, because I was "embarrassing" her, and she spanked me along the way (that wasn't embarrassing?) although we'd just come and my cousin had to come from another part of the city to go for a walk with us.
I remember having career counseling in elementary school. Part of it included aptitude tests and an interview with a psychologist. I was told I was "above average" and could do most things I liked. I was happy with that. My mother wasn't. She was a psychologist and actually went to the psychologist who tested me and got exact information from her. She shared my exact IQ, which she wheedled out of the psychologist, with me, in a concerned way. "It must be higher than that" she said worriedly. "They applied an adult scale on you, and you're just 14" she added. Until recently, no, to this day, at this very moment, I'm painfully embarrassed by my IQ of 133 on the Wechsler scale (which roughly corresponds to 153 on the Cattel scale)*. I feel utterly inadequate. I only recently did some googling and was surprised to discover it was in fact not that bad. Top 2%. Good enough for effing Mensa. Why wasn't she happy with that? Why wasn't that good enough for her? What would have been?