Nadine Matis, 1990 Utah and National American Mother of the Year, urged mothers on Saturday to maintain freedom over individual thoughts and make the time to take care of themselves first.

"The greatest discovery any of us can have is to control our thoughts," Matis said in the keynote address at the annual convention of American Mothers Inc., Utah Association, at Salt Lake's Clarion Hotel.Dorothy Jensen Stoddard, Ephraim, was named the 1991 Utah State Mother of the Year in the conference's afternoon session. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in home economics and taught school at Ephraim Elementary for 29 years.

She is married to Robert Stoddard, a vice president at Snow College. They have four children and 16 grandchildren.

Wendy Goodrich McKenna, Farmington, was honored as the 1991 Young Mother of the Year. She was born in Bountiful and graduated from Utah State University. She is married to Richard McKenna and they are the parents of five children. McKenna succeeds last year's winner, Marilyn Bambrough.

Matis, last year's honored mother and an Ogden resident, explained that mothers can control circumstances by controlling their thoughts. She admitted that while some life experiences - like a house fire or giving birth to a handicapped child - are beyond thought control, a positive attitude in dealing with and accepting such events is the key.

"Take time to take care of yourself . . . to read, to pray, to laugh and to love. Take care of your own mind and spirit first," she said, stressing that there's a good reason airline flight attendants tell parents to put their own air masks on first during an emergency. A dead mother would be no help to her children, she said.

She also explained that mothers who assure their children that they are special and will be loved unconditionally help them live up to their potential.

"I value the career of motherhood beyond any career," said Matis, who has a doctorate in counseling and psychology.

Matis, whose husband is Dr. John A. Matis, said she loves to read and that she and her husband have tried to influence their children to rely on reading instead of television for entertainment.

Catherine Peterson, convention chairman, said Matis would have "gone platinum," if she had a recording of this year's conference theme - "American Mothers' Greatest Hits."

The conference opened with a special greeting written by first lady Barbara Bush and read by W. Val Oveson, lieutenant governor of Utah.

"I can think of no finer, nor more noble, goal than to strengthen the moral and spiritual foundations of the family and the home. I feel very strongly that the family is the foundation of our society," Bush wrote.

"If we give our children a strong, healthy family life, we will be building a stronger, happier nation."