Abby Reverts and Maria Anderson have shown that time and a willingness to forgive can turn an ugly start into an unlikely friendship.
The two mothers from Madison, South Dakota, shared on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Monday how they have gone from the early awkwardness and bitterness of Reverts becoming a stepmother to Anderson's two children to now being so tightknit that their families live across the street from one another.
"I come from a divorced family," Reverts said. "lt looks like you're with Mom, you're with Dad. Those typically don't get along, and I feel like we just broke the mold of what it can look like."
The two admittedly butted heads at first when Reverts, 35, married Anderson's ex-husband, Steven Pedersen, 40, after Anderson and Pedersen divorced in 2013. Anderson, 37, who also got remarried, shared custody of her two children with Reverts.
"Actually seeing somebody with my kids, it's not an easy thing to swallow," Anderson said. "Those feelings of, 'Is she going to be better than I am with my kids, or are my kids gonna like her better?'"
"Each encounter was just tense, and I'd always feel this just gut like, 'Oh, boy, what's coming?'" Reverts said.
There were frequent conflicts over how the children were being raised.
"I didn't have respect for their parenting styles, and they didn't have respect for mine," Anderson said. "So we butted heads a lot. There was a lot of harsh words said."
· Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long. · Sign up for the weekly TODAY Parents Newsletter!
The ice started to thaw when Steve and Abby had a child of their own together.
"I absolutely agree with that because as much as I thought that I knew what I knew about being a parent or being a stepparent then, once you have your own and really experienced that yourself, then I could really relate and be in her shoes," Reverts said.
Both couples had more children, and the animosity in their relationship evaporated to the point that Maria and her husband, Chris Anderson, 36, bought the house across the street from Abby and Steve.
"There's no growth that happens within your comfort zone," Reverts said. "We had to get uncomfortable to be in a better spot. We had to let go of words that we can't take back. If you can't, and if you don't, then I feel like you're stuck in that hamster wheel of bitterness and resentment."
"The ultimate goal was to raise our kids together, so that they know what a loving family is, even if their dad and I aren't together," Anderson said. "But just keeping that end goal in mind is what really brought me to realize I needed to forgive and just move on."
The two moms are now close friends.
"I know that I can be honest with her, that I can come and have a genuine conversation and expect a genuine response," Reverts said.
Stepmom advice: How to practice self-care while stepparentingMay 9, 201906:49
"I would say Abby is probably one of my best friends," Anderson said. "She is somebody I go to when I'm having a bad day or in a good mood or something is going wrong. We'll go and just visit and talk it through."
Their personalities also complement one other.
"I am the voice of reason," Reverts said.
"She keeps me grounded," Anderson said. "I keep her crazy."
The families now go on vacation together and celebrate birthdays with one another. Anderson and Reverts both recently accompanied the oldest of their children, Jordan, as he got his learner's permit at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
"I like to tell them a lot is we're gonna make the best out of maybe a not-ideal situation," Anderson said about her children. "Always try to find the best in people. Just hopefully they can grow up to be kind, loving individuals as well."
A day ahead of National Best Friends Day on Tuesday, the two are celebrating a friendship that seemed like a long shot when they first met.
"I couldn't ask for someone better in my life to help me raise my kids with," Anderson said. "I couldn't be happier with having her in my life."